Cities thrive when community partners identify problems, band together and find solutions. There may be no better example of it than in the teamwork demonstrated by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, the University of Oshkosh Foundation, two regional hoteliers and the Oshkosh Common Council and its city taxpayers, who got behind the shared effort and investment to resurrect their downtown’s struggling riverfront hotel.
Just two blocks from the UW Oshkosh campus, the hotel’s revitalization immediately created dozens of construction jobs. Its completion will reenergize Oshkosh Convention Center business, support more UW Oshkosh conferences and events and strengthen a resurgent retail and arts scene in downtown Oshkosh.
If cities, like thriving neighborhoods, are going to make it, they require “neighbors banding together” and investments that “make economic sense” and “increase the financial and social equity.”
So, according to the city’s mayor, Oshkosh got it right when partners including the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, the University of Oshkosh Foundation, two regional hoteliers and the city council and taxpayers got behind the shared effort and investment to resurrect their downtown’s struggling riverfront hotel.
“What we had was people banding together to deal with the problem,” said city of Oshkosh Mayor Burk Tower, after accepting the UW Oshkosh Foundation’s Collaboration in Action Award at its 7th Annual Report to the Community Breakfast on Sept. 18.
Oshkosh’s City Center Hotel is under new ownership, and the local partnership holding the keys is reenergizing revitalization plans.
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation and local hoteliers Richard Batley of RB Hospitality in Neenah and John Pfefferle of Pfefferle Companies, Inc. in Appleton announced their new ownership of the hotel, finalized Feb. 14. The partners have officially closed on the sale of the property, purchasing it from Nashco Hospitality Group LLC, which owned it since 2009. They plan to transform the 179-room waterfront property into a full-service, state-of-the-art business hotel, anchoring the city’s downtown and serving as an economic catalyst for the entire community.
The sale and planned revitalization of downtown Oshkosh’s City Center Hotel is benefitting yet another important community partner: Habitat for Humanity.
The hotel’s new owners — the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation and regional hoteliers Rich Batley and John Pfefferle — have teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to empty out the 20-year-old property over the course of the next week. Furniture, TVs and other items from the property’s more than 170 rooms will be donated for resale at Habitat’s ReStores throughout northeastern Wisconsin, including Oshkosh, Appleton, Green Bay and Door County locations.
The partners remain dedicated to the hotel vision originally proposed last fall: A renovated, state-of-the-art, full-service downtown business hotel with a new restaurant, reopened in early 2013. The hotel will complement the revitalized, attached Oshkosh Convention Center and enhance nearby UW Oshkosh’s vibrant academic conference business. It will also bring new downtown jobs and economic energy to Oshkosh retail storefronts, cafes, performance venues and other businesses aligned with the city’s ongoing redevelopment efforts.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced seven Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grants – including two for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh – totaling more than $2.6 million, to improve water quality at Great Lakes beaches in Michigan and Wisconsin.
UW Oshkosh was awarded $1 million (two grants of $500,000 each) to redesign eight Wisconsin beaches to reduce bacteria levels, resulting in fewer swimming bans and beach closures. The beaches include: Samuel Myers Park, Racine; Red Arrow Park Beach, Marinette; Crescent Beach, Algoma; Red Arrow Park Beach, Manitowoc; Thompson West End Park, Washburn; Grant Park, South Milwaukee; and Simmons Island and Eichelman Parks, Kenosha.