The city allocated $5 million in the 2019 budget for the design and site excavation of the new public library, which is a step in the progression of the project.
The proposed library, to be located on the site of the current Soldiers Square parking ramp, would be 120,000 square feet and cost an estimated $30 million. It would be part of a larger mixed-use development that would be done in phases and include adjoining and nearby apartments and condominiums — potentially adding $66.3 million in tax base.
If the project gets the go-ahead by the Common Council, another $25 million would be needed for library construction in subsequent years.
Library director Colleen Rortvedt said solving the parking situation will be a priority this year before figuring out future plans.
"(The) parking solution I hope is going to happen in the first part of this year otherwise this drags on," Rortvedt told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
Parking continues to be one of the biggest concerns voiced by the public regarding the proposed Soldiers Square location.
"I can say that there is a timeline in the budget," Rortvedt said. "There's capital planning in the budget. The budget is our plan for the work that we're going to be doing over the next few years ... but a large project like this, you have to be flexible and you have to be open-minded and you have to listen to people and work with what you learn along the way. That's kind of where we are right now."
Blue Ramp/Soldiers Square Demolition
Parking changes are under way in the downtown, following the closure of the Blue Ramp on Jan. 1.
The budget set aside $2.4 million for the ramp's demolition, which is expected to begin soon and continue throughout the summer, according to project manager Dean Gazza.
The ramp is located at 100 N. Appleton St. and sometimes is referred to as the City Center ramp. The ramp has been in service for about 50 years and was projected to be unfit for use by 2020.
Following its demolition, the site will be turned into a public green space.
Another $500,000 was allocated for the demolition of Soldiers Square Parking Ramp, but there are no plans to take it down anytime soon.
If nothing happens with the ramp, the money will be carried over into 2020.
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Initial design and construction of a $25 million, 625-stall underground parking ramp for U.S. Venture will begin this year.
The 2019 budget set aside $10 million for the project. An additional $15 million is expected to be allocated in 2020 and 2021.
Mayor Tim Hanna said much of the focus this year will be design work. He said it's necessary for the underground parking ramp and the company's building to be designed in alignment with each other.
"(U.S. Venture) need to make decisions about their building because that impacts the design of the ramp," Hanna said. "There is a lot of work being done on that project but at some point in 2019 you will see the physical work begin."
The parking ramp is in line with the company's decision to build a new $54.5 million headquarters downtown on what's known as Bluff Site 1, a four-acre area home to the former Fox Banquets and Rivertyme Catering property.
U.S. Venture distributes and markets energy, automotive and lubricant products. The multistory building, along with the public parking ramp, would be one of the largest investments in downtown Appleton in the city's history.
The completion of the company's new building is expected between late 2021 and early 2022.