April 30, 2020
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
BRILLION – Brillion Works LLC, the group established by Ariens Co to purchase the former Brillion Iron Works foundry with the city, now has a conceptual map in place for its redevelopment plan for part of the site.
The group’s plans for the first phase of redevelopment is both transformative and imaginative.
Phase one includes the overhaul of four original Brillion Iron Works buildings, the restoration of Spring Creek with an 11-acre park and a new mixed-use building.
A new road, Parkway Drive, will run from south from Highway 10 through the redeveloped area, and has been approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
The first phase is a segment bordered by Pine Street (extended) to the north, North Francis Street to the west and the new Parkway Drive to the east.
While everything on the map is pending, additional development plans for the site include the expansion of the city’s trail system and Horn Park, public greenspaces, restaurants, office spaces, an amphitheater, hotels and apartments or other residential living, and a STEM area that area schools could use.
“We’re trying to [create] a new gateway here from the east into the city,” Mark Olsen, vice president with AriensCo, said.
The project will mix old, new and nature across one massive space.
Specific construction projects could be announced as soon as this summer. If all goes according to plan, new construction could be started by September.
The historic buildings at the site are what excites AriensCo President and CEO Dan Ariens the most about the project.
“I’m kind of a history buff so I like being able to bring back the bones of these old buildings that are pretty cool,” Ariens said.
The buildings saved are the original foundry building from 1910, the brick office building on the corner of Francis Street and Park Avenue, the DISA building and a barrel-roofed building on Park Avenue.
“That will be an interesting landmark kind of statement and I think it will help flow into the whole activated park area,” Ariens said.
Ariens says that there was some consideration to remove all original structures during planning.
“We looked at if we razed the whole site including the office and everything. In a lot of ways that would have been a lot easier. It would have been giving us a clean slate,” Ariens said.
In that scenario, the layout, including new streets, would have been completely different than what will eventually be created. Ariens opted that preserving history should be part of the project.
“I just think the whole character of Brillion is really set in some of those buildings. I think the history of Brillion and its founding, even before the foundry, there’s some statements in those buildings that help us pause and reflect on the people that worked and came before us that built this city. That doesn’t just mean the Ariens family, that means every family that put work into these companies,” Ariens said.
Please see the complete detailed story in the April 30, 2020 print edition of The Brillion News.