A series of alterations taking place in downtown Stevens Point has created a domino effect of changes in other areas of town.
Part of the city’s goal, as stated on its downtown development webpage, is to “encourage efforts to retain, reinforce and attract a diverse mix of businesses to Main Street. Encourage residential development to provide for a ‘24/7’ activity level.”
The changes began with the decision to demolish part of the old mall and extend Third Street. This has been accomplished, and Third Street now runs from 6th Avenue to Water Street. It used to be broken up by the mall.
On the east side of Third Street, Shopko and part of the mall building remain. A portion of the mall a little bit bigger than a city street, including sidewalks, has been knocked down. Third Street now runs through this, although the street is not yet open for traffic.
Mid-State Technical College plans to move into the old mall building and use it as a new facility. Construction to redesign the interior will begin in April of 2013. They hope to complete the remodeling, move in and be ready to start holding class in the new building by January of 2014. “We have a number of new opportunities,” said Steve Smith, the campus dean of MSTC. “We will have classrooms of the appropriate size. We will have labs of the appropriate size.”
2,800 students attend MSTC in Stevens Point every year. Classrooms in their current facility, located on Michigan Avenue, have been undersized, and parking has been an issue. After moving into the new facility, Smith stated that the school would have 17,000 more square feet than they currently do.
Part of the space will be used to build a loft or balcony for a new student lounge. Smith stated that they are also excited to have sufficient space to move their early childhood education program from the Wisconsin Rapids campus to Stevens Point. MSTC and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) sometimes work together in their early childhood education program, and Smith hopes that being geographically closer will encourage that relationship to grow even more.
Once MSTC vacates the building on Main Street, there are a few possibilities for the building. One would be a new City Hall. Another would be a new facility for The Boys and Girls Club. Director of Development and Marketing Carie Winn said they were told they might receive a portion of the building.
“We are in a holding period,” Winn said. “We hope to use a portion of the Recreation Center or Mid-State, but we are the third prong in this project.”
The third possibility for use of the building is a new campus for the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). MCW is considering Stevens Point, Marshfield, or Wausau as potential locations for their new satellite college. Representatives from MCW have met with the Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson, and UWSP Chancellor Bernie Patterson. If MCW decides to use the old MSTC building for its campus they hope to collaborate with UWSP so that students could have access to athletics and fine arts programs.
The building could also end up being used for a combination of those ideas. No decisions have been made yet. The representatives who toured the possible campus locations for MCW will give their recommendation to the board of trustees on Nov 16.
When downtown business owners were asked to comment on the changes taking place many refused, stating that they did not wish to be involved. Halverson was also asked to comment but did not return any calls or emails.