Editorial: Proposal holds promise for downtown River FallsA much-anticipated overhaul by a core downtown tenant along with the city’s guiding role in setting up a new Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District could revitalize a chunk of South Main Street while adding environmental protection and more public access to our beloved Kinni (Lake George).
A much-anticipated overhaul by a core downtown tenant along with the city’s guiding role in setting up a new Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District could revitalize a chunk of South Main Street while adding environmental protection and more public access to our beloved Kinni (Lake George).
EconoFoods’ corporate owner Nash Finch is proposing to convert its downtown supermarket into a Family Fresh design found at its stores in Hudson and New Richmond. Nash Finch would buy Lund’s Hardware and the building behind it, razing them for more parking and eventually erecting a new building that could attract another store or shop.
Keeping a robust business like EconoFoods going strong is good news for the well-being of Main Street in River Falls. There aren’t many small cities that can boast having a busy supermarket in the midst of their downtowns.
The new look will spiff up that area of South Main and Walnut streets and improve problematic traffic and pedestrian access at that intersection. Future plans call for new catch basins to filter stormwater runoff before it reaches the river and flows downstream.
The city’s role is big: 1) To buy a strip of waterfront land to extend the White Pathway and realize the longtime goal of making it a trail that rings Lake George and the river; 2) To set up a new TIF district, which is a bootstrapping economic tool where a city can tap expected higher taxes of a completed development to assist with current building and utility costs related to improvements within the district.
The new TIF district has potential for other business projects as it would extend as far as Dr. Glenn Hoberg’s Medical Block building, 504 S. Main St. Hoberg continues with his practice, but reports receiving offers over the years to buy and redevelop his property and other sites along West Cascade Avenue. He says a serious offer that included a major pharmaceutical chain fizzled just last Friday.
However, the continuing interest in that juncture of South Main Street, at the edge of downtown and close to UW-River Falls, shows there’s genuine retail potential and justifies the range of a new TIF district.
We expect local citizens are grateful to see a plan put forth with a vision to improve what downtown River Falls has to offer. Despite commercial growth on the north and south ends, the city’s cohesive center is still the downtown with the university, river (and lake), theater, park, various shops, stores, cafes, bars, offices, and, yes, a newly remodeled Family Fresh supermarket and the surrounding blocks.
Early results from this week’s Journal’s online poll question — Should the city of River Falls approve tax-increment financing, a tax break, so property owners like Nash Finch can redevelop the downtown area that includes EconoFoods and Lund’s Hardware and extends south to the Medical Block building on 504 S. Main St.? — show the following: YES, 61.1%; NO, 38.9%.
Cast your vote on this question by going to www.riverfallsjournal.com