The Pioneer Square project is an innovative public-private partnership among the City of Platteville, General Capital, and Movin’ Out, Inc., that turned a declining area into a valuable community asset with housing and commercial space.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Association awarded the project a 2020 Community and Economic Development Award.
City officials recognized the catalytic potential of redeveloping the former Pioneer Ford properties, which had stood vacant for many years and were beginning to blight the highly visible location at the outer edge of downtown. The site was overgrown with weeds, and the property was off the tax rolls.
Ayres assisted the City in applying for a successful $150,000 Site Assessment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and was selected to complete Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental site assessments (ESAs), assessment of asbestos and other hazardous materials, associated demolition coordination, and remedial designs that were approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
This property once housed the Pioneer Ford car dealership, a grocery store, a small commercial building, and a four-unit apartment building. The site had known and perceived environmental issues resulting from dry cleaning and auto repair businesses that previously operated there.
The City purchased the five parcels that made up the site, solicited redevelopment proposals, and awarded General Capital the redevelopment project for Pioneer Square. The development consists of the 71-unit Ruxton mixed-income apartment building and approximately 2,500 square feet of commercial space to house a Southwest Wisconsin Technical College outreach facility. The redevelopment required full demolition of the worst buildings and the full renovation of the historic Pioneer Ford building.
Appropriate measures were taken to remove and/or cap any residual contamination, leaving a site that’s compliant with environmental standards and safe for the new residential use.
Direct economic benefits of the project include an increase in the local tax base. In 2015, when the City acquired the properties, the assessed value was $331,400. In 2019 the properties have an assessed value of $2,746,300. In 2015 the taxes from the properties were $21,469. This amount increased to $59,020 as of 2019.
The project represents the largest new housing development in downtown since the 1950s. Beside the direct economic stimulus during construction, the project continues to stimulate economic development by adding to the downtown residential population, which in turn supports nearby businesses.