City seeking public input on redevelopment of Blackhawk Junction

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After more than five years of declining occupancy and deterioration at the Blackhawk Junction shopping center, the city of Prairie du Chien and its Redevelopment Authority (RDA) are leading a detailed planning process to facilitate the eventual redevelopment of the site at 700 E. Blackhawk Ave.  

The former strip mall is a nine-acre, tax delinquent, blighted property in the middle of a residential neighborhood contaminated by an old commercial dry-cleaning facility. Contamination was first reported to DNR in 2008, and the last known remedial action work (a draft site investigation scope report) occurred in 2010. Crawford County recently took title to the property through tax delinquency proceedings, and the RDA has reached an agreement to purchase the property from the county by Dec. 31. 

“While there are quality tenants, the property is underutilized and does not currently offer an environment that’s conducive to their long-term success. There are significant environmental issues that will need to be cleaned up before private redevelopment can occur,” said RDA Chair Bob Standorf. “RDA ownership will allow for a careful evaluation and site preparation process that aims to return it to the tax rolls as quickly as possible while providing the community with new residential options and commercial amenities.” 

The Remediation and Redevelopment Program (RR) at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has provided funding for consulting services to assist with brownfield redevelopment planning at the site. The DNR has provided a Wisconsin Assessment Monies (WAM) grant to identify the extent of the site’s environmental contamination issues and set the necessary remediation requirements. On behalf of the city, the DNR also successfully secured a Small Technical Assistance Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist the city with redevelopment planning. The objective of the planning grant is to complete a reuse concept study for the site that will help identify realistic, near-term redevelopment opportunities that make sense for the community. The study will also specify state, federal and other financial aid opportunities the city can pursue for help with cleanup and redevelopment. 

This project builds on environmental work already completed at the site, as well as the recently finished market analysis for Prairie du Chien and nearby communities in Allamakee, Clayton and Crawford counties, prepared by UW Extension and Driftless Development, Inc. in June 2018. This analysis highlights the city’s importance as a regional employment and commercial center, with opportunities for new housing and retail development that will better position the city for growth and aid in recruiting new employees to current major employers.

The opportunity for meaningful engagement and input from community members on the future of the property is an important piece of a larger development effort in the city. Resident participation and the sharing of ideas among community members and leaders will be a top priority for the project. Interested citizens, city staff, and other stakeholders will be actively involved in the study and in the identification of a preferred reuse concept for the site. 

An initial public meeting will be held on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Prairie du Chien City Hall, which will include an introductory presentation by the city’s planning consultant, Vandewalle & Associates, of Madison, followed by small group exercises and discussion around community goals and the long-term vision for the Blackhawk Junction site. An additional public “open house” gathering will be held in early 2020 to obtain feedback on proposed site redevelopment concepts prior to finalization.

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