This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.
Randy Stadtmueller has a knack for taking former industrial sites and giving them new life.
The Neenah-based developer already has taken several vacant manufacturing buildings and found new uses and life for them. For example, he led the conversion of Kimberly Clark Corp.’s vacant Atlas Mill along the Fox River in Appleton into a home for a museum celebrating the region’s rich paper history as well as space for a restaurant and office tenants. Further north along the river, his company, Stadtmueller & Associates, worked with the city on clearing the former Riverside Paper mill site and created Eagle Flats, a mixed-use development featuring affordable and senior housing apartments.
“When it comes to these types of projects – turning vacant sites into something new – we know how to get it done,” he says. “We understand what needs to be done and how to go about securing the funds through TIF districts, housing grants or historic preservation grants. Some people shy away thinking it’s just too much, but it’s really not. It just takes time and patience since these projects can take years to come together, but it’s worth it.”
The company is now working on two other projects along the Fox River – one in Kaukauna and one in Kimberly – that also happen to be former paper mill sites. In Kaukauna, Stadtmueller worked with the city on a plan to move and expand its library into the historic Eagle Mill, which once housed the city’s first paper mill. In addition, he worked with Expera Specialty Solutions – the owner of the neighboring paper mill — to move its headquarters into the renovated building.
Stadtmueller recognizes it can take years for the projects to come together. “Patience is key with all of these projects, but the reward – taking what was an unused site and turning it into something that adds value to the community – is worth it,” he said.