Design plans unveiled for Kenosha Innovation Center

The City of Kenosha and the Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood, Inc. on Monday unveiled the conceptual design plans for the $22.8 million Innovation Center to be built as one of the first two structures at the Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood.

The Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood is the master planned redevelopment of the 107-acre former American Motors Corp. and Chrysler plant site, located east of 30th Avenue between 52nd Street and 60th Street in Kenosha. Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood, Inc. is a non-profit organization led by a board of community, education, business and government partners to lead the project.

The 60,000-square-foot Innovation Center building will provide co-working space for startups and will also be used as a welcome center for the Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood, and will house staff for Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood Inc., community development efforts including a partnership with gener8tor’s gBETA program and could also house community and education partners.

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City and Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood representatives toured innovation centers in several cities to get ideas for the planned facility in Kenosha, said Tim Casey, Kenosha director of city development.

“This is like Titletown Tech (in Green Bay),” Casey said.

The city is managing the Innovation Center project. Ultimately it will be owned and operated by Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood, Inc. The city received a state grant that will cover $14 million of the cost of the $22.8 million facility. The rest of the cost will be covered by new markets tax credits and tax incremental financing, Casey said.

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The Innovation Center, designed by Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects (which was selected from design concepts submitted by five architectural firms), would be situated on a plaza, and adjacent to the greenway corridor that runs through the site.

“We are excited to share the cutting-edge design of the Innovation Center which will be a focal point, welcome center and home to our entrepreneurial development efforts,” said Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian.

“The design conceived by EUA is modern, has sweeping glass, and portions of the structure are elevated above functional plaza space below,” said Debra Ford, the KIN board president and chancellor at UW-Parkside. “We really felt this design had the ‘Wow’ factor to help set the tone for the revitalization of this site and the neighborhoods around it and signal the educational and career opportunities we can provide for Kenosha and the region.”

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In addition to the Innovation Center, the city is entering into agreements with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance Foundation to begin construction of a new LakeView Technology Academy. The science, engineering, technology and math-focused high school, part of the Kenosha Unified School District, will move there from its current location at 9449 88th Ave. in Pleasant Prairie.

The city of Kenosha will retain ownership of the 107-acre Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood. Sites will be made available to business tenants or developers via long-term ground leases, Casey said.

City officials worked with numerous stakeholders to develop the master plan for the Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood development and will begin construction of first phase infrastructure later this year.

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