After years of planning and development, the RiverHeath project is officially dedicated in Appleton.
The property transforms a site once used for manufacturing. What was once a paper mill on the Fox River now has a softer touch as the dedication of RiverHeath opens up access to the water by providing a complex with 32 housing units and first floor retail space.
"In many cities the river is the thing that divides the city, and for a long time I've said this river should be the thing that unites us," Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna said.
RiverHeath symbolizes the latest example of riverfront development which has been a trend in cities across Northeast Wisconsin.
The site on the Fox River in Appleton was a bit more complicated because of contamination clean-up that wasn't just from the former mill.
"It was also used by a drilling fluids company. There was a paper company that operated here, and multiple other industrial uses. So there was various types of contamination from those industrial-type uses," said Jennifer Borski, of the Wisconsin DNR.
Developers say there's still work to be done. Plans call for the addition of walking trails, an outdoor music venue and, starting next spring, the construction of a second building.
"It's rare to find this big of chunk of land right in the middle of downtown on the water, and so we're really fortunate, sort of the urban planner's dream to be able to figure out what you want to do with the site and put in trails and boardwalks and that sort of thing," said Mark Geall of Tanesay Development.
The project addresses a changing dynamic of people wishing to live close to downtown but not far from nature.
Hanna said, "It's a whole re-birth, and it's kind of the next generation of the Fox River in Appleton."
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