APPLETON - Plans for an Appleton exhibition and convention center are moving along.
A group supporting the center has released early designs for the project and says it has a hotel willing to take on the risk, but many hurdles remain.
"We were one of the premier convention sites 20 years ago when we built the Paper Valley Hotel, but we're not that way now because we don't have this facility," Walter Rugland said.
Rugland is the director of Fox Cities Exhibition Center, Inc., a newly formed nonprofit, that's working to make that facility a reality.
The group has released conceptual designs for the project.
They show a large exhibition space overlooking Jones Park and a skyway across W. Lawrence St., connecting the center to the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel.
"They've basically said we're on, we're ready to do that," Rugland said of the Paper Valley owners, Watermark Montclair Wisconsin Properties, LLC.
Rugland says Watermark Montclair is willing to lease the facility for 20 years.
"Yes, it's worth moving along," Mayor Tim Hanna said. "Are there big questions? Absolutely, there's big questions."
Questions like financing. A December report showed construction costs could range from $18 to 23 million.
Another challenge is the land itself. The property is owned by Outagamie County, which may not be willing to sell. Construction on the site could land-lock the county's justice center and eat up well-used county parking.
"Those are all questions that need to answered by the county and of course we're in a time of leadership transition," Hanna said.
He doesn't expect any action on the exhibition center until the county elects its new executive April 5.
Rugland, however, wants to see things move along.
"Construction costs are low, interest rates are low," he said. "Nine months, 12 months from now, we don't think it's going to be the same."
He'll be talking with county leaders the first week in March.
If the project moves forward, the Fox Cities Exhibition Center, Inc., would own the center, while the hotel would lease and care for the facility.
Firefighters are battling a house fire in Kewaunee County.
Wind, snow, cold and ice played a role as firefighters battled a fire in downtown Ripon Wednesday morning.
Outagamie County's second largest employer is expanding, and veterans are encouraged to apply.
The State Building Commission has approved $5 million to help build the Wisconsin Maritime Center of Excellence in Marinette.
Fond du Lac police have released more information about the weapons they found in the apartment of a man who was at the center of a five-hour standoff on Monday.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is announcing a public meeting has been scheduled to provide road closure and design information for the Velp Avenue interchange area.