Former downtown Appleton bank building to be sold, torn down

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY)- More changes could be coming to downtown Appleton where a former bank building is expected to be sold and torn down.

Vacant former North Shore Bank Building on College Avenue in downtown Appleton (WBAY photo)

This would make room for a new mixed use development at 320 East College Avenue.

It's a building that many might consider an eye sore in downtown Appleton, but now for the first time since the former branch of the North Shore Bank closed in 2011 there's potential for new life.

"The hope is the site will be re-developed to align with the city of Appleton's comprehensive plan which calls for retail on the ground floor on College Avenue and residential on the upper floors," said Jake Woodford, Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Board of Trustees at Lawrence University.

Lawrence University bought the building more than five years ago but since struggled with what to do with it.

Woodford added, "Shortly after we acquired the building we lent it out to a community organization to aid in refugee resettlement, and in the time since we've used it for some university storage."

The college began soliciting developers last spring.

As part of the deal accepted with one developer, the university will keep the parking lot, which has more than 50 stalls.

This means the new project will include underground parking.

Already the announcement has generated some excitement in the downtown district.

"It has been a long time vacant, so you get that "missing tooth syndrome" in a block where you get that dead zone, and that can lead to graffiti, it can lead to deteriorating building. So this is an opportunity to turn that around and really develop something that's going to be interactive with the community," said Jennifer Stephany of Appleton Downtown, Inc.

The deal is likely to be finalized over the next couple of months.

"It's an exciting time for downtown Appleton, for the university, and we hope that this spurs more activity on this end of College Avenue," said Woodford.

The project will go before the city's redevelopment authority on February 28.

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