Project planned for Wells site

Downtown residential development topic of upcoming neighborhood meetings



Bear Development is proposing a two-phase residential project in downtown Kenosha on the former Frank L. Wells Co. manufacturing site, and Second District Alderwoman Chris Schwartz wants to give the public a chance to hear about it firsthand.

Schwartz is hosting two community meetings to give people opportunities to ask the prospective developers questions and to offer comments regarding redevelopment at 5821 Fifth Ave.

The first meeting begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, and the second at 6 p.m. Wednesday, both in Room 202 of the Municipal Building, 625 52nd St.

Schwartz, who announced the community meetings during aldermen’s comments at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, said they will be open to anybody “with continued interest in downtown to see what (Bear) is offering” as it affects the possible future of Kenosha’s downtown.

She stressed that no permit applications have been submitted to the city for the proposed project and that it is only in the very preliminary stages at this time.

However, Schwartz said she invited Bear representatives to do a full presentation during the community meetings and to take questions from the public. She said she has seen artist renderings only for the first phase of the proposed project. That phase would comprise a five-story residential building.

In addition, Schwartz said, Bear is proposing to bear the cost of razing the former factory and doing the required environmental cleanup before residential housing can be erected on the land. She said Bear will provide artist renderings of the five-story building, but the second phase is not yet being discussed.

The Wells Co., which began operating in downtown Kenosha in 1895, shut down in 2008.

The company employed a handful of people. Its history stretched back to the early industrial life of the city, with the company building machinery that made springs for mattresses and seats, which is what tied Wells to the city’s earliest industries, including the Simmons Mattress Co. and the Bain Wagon Works.

Beginning in the late 1990s, its location as an industrial facility began being seen as an impediment to redeveloping downtown Kenosha.


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