Downtown Rhinelander Inc. (DRI) recently held a press conference with local area businesses and city officials to discuss future plans for renovations in the downtown area. The press conference helped to clarify upcoming plans and proposals to help boost business and reconstruct downtown areas for structural and aesthetic enhancement, which will be discussed in full detail at the Open House for Available Properties event on May 18. We recently spoke with Maggie Steffen, executive director of DRI, to discuss what kinds of changes residents and businesses can expect to see in coming years and what DRI has planned for the late bloom of spring in the area.
Star Journal: What is the Open House for Available Properties event?
Maggie Steffen: The Open House for Available Properties event was designed for prospective and current business owners and members of the community to have the opportunity to preview vacant and leasable properties within the downtown district. We currently have over two dozen spaces available for a multitude of types of business to rent or purchase. Any and all business owners, even those who may already have a location in the area, can see what kinds of properties may help expand their business or maybe simply get their business up and running.
SJ: How long has DRI been in the process of planning this open house event?
MS: We began brainstorming the strategy plans last December in terms of potential modifications to the downtown Rhinelander area, but really started piecing the ideas together and preparing for it about a month ago.
SJ: What are some of the primary focuses at this point that DRI is looking to improve?
MS: We’re still in the planning phase and will be doing much of our collaborating with city officials in terms of funding and success of designs, but we’ll be taking on multiple remodeling projects in separate phases, with an anticipated construction beginning date of 2016. Our goal is to make downtown Rhinelander as healthy and vibrant of a community as possible before the renovation begins so that residents and tourists alike know what our downtown has to offer before construction begins and areas become more difficult to access. Ultimately, we want to promote our downtown industry so that people will familiarize themselves with the community and continue to support our businesses while renovation projects begin.
SJ: What kinds of activities does DRI have planned to help involve the community?
MS: While we’re in the midst of planning large-scale activities, we have a lot of smaller events planned for the near future, including a luncheon at Northern Coffee Haus this Wednesday to celebrate administrative professionals in our area. Anyone who’s interested in attending the luncheon can contact Patty at Northern Coffee Haus at (715) 369-9390 or stop by our office to register. We’ll also be holding a DRI open house on May 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a volunteer appreciation celebration outside of our office on May 23 that will include free lunch to all community members that have supported DRI through volunteering. On the second Saturday in June, we’ll be hosting our annual car show that coincides with Art on the Courthouse Lawn craft festival, which is always an exciting event for the community.
SJ: How can community members get involved with DRI?
MS: We’re always looking for volunteers to assist us with upcoming projects. We’re currently searching for flower basket sponsors for our planting project that will begin in early June. We are looking to have around 115 flower baskets this year and each basket costs about $100 between the planting and potting process. We’re also looking for volunteers to water the flower baskets throughout the summer. The flower baskets need to be watered almost every day and we’re looking for community members who would like to volunteer an hour of their early mornings to help water the baskets throughout the downtown area. Anyone that is interested in volunteering can stop by our office on Brown Street or give us a call at (715) 362-7374.