WATCH NOW / UPDATE: Unified says no formal decision has been made on the academy’s presence in the proposed Innovation District despite the mayor’s previous announcement | Local News
Kenosha Unified officials said Wednesday evening that no formal decision has yet been made for a local tech academy to be incorporated into the city’s proposed innovation district, despite an announcement by the mayor a day ago. .
District spokesperson Tanya Ruder said the school board has yet to hear presentations regarding the Kenosha Innovation District plans to incorporate the LakeView Technology Academy into the proposed development.
“Kenosha Unified, KABA and Gateway continue to explore relocation opportunities for LakeView Technology Academy that would enable future growth. Discussions are underway as to whether the proposed Kenosha innovation district would be a potential solution, ”Ruder said. “At the moment, this has not been officially presented or approved by the Board of Education, no agreement has been reached and a lot of work remains to be done regarding the financial feasibility of a project of this wingspan. “
The district’s statement contrasts with Mayor John Antaramian’s announcement that LakeView will be part of plans to anchor the educational space in the ambitious future development of the billion-dollar city that aims to transform the way residents from the heart of the city live, work and play.
“I received permission this evening to make the announcement that LakeView (Technology) Academy will be the school that will come to the site,” Mayor John Antaramian said during the official announcement Tuesday evening to applause from approximately 30 people who attended the city’s third Innovation Neighborhood briefing held at the old Brown Bank Building in Uptown.
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“It couldn’t happen without all of you, and I appreciate it.”
The mayor especially thanked his “old friend” Leo Chiappetta, a local educator, who urged him to include a school of technology in the project.
In October, city council approved a plan to allocate the first $ 13.2 million in federal stimulus funds through American Rescue Plan Act funding to support local governments in the aftermath of the pandemic. of COVID-19. Approximately $ 1.3 million of federal stimulus funds would be used to lay the foundation for the new LakeView.
City officials and Kenosha Unified have been in talks since May on how to integrate the academy, currently located at 9449 88th Ave. in Pleasant Prairie, at the proposed Innovation District site. The district, the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, and the Gateway Technical College have sought out where the academy could relocate to accommodate future growth by possibly relocating from the building it now shares to the satellite campus of Gateway Technical College.
“So I can only tell you all here today, this is an opportunity for our young people. This is an opportunity for us to help people who want to start their own job, their own business, ”said Antaramian. “And, this is an opportunity for us to work with the (technical college) system, the school district and everyone else to make sure that happens and allows us to help train young people and older workers.” , who are also looking to have to change because of technology, so that’s happening with what’s going on.
Innovation Neighborhood’s proposal focuses on transforming the former ownership of the Chrysler Engine Plant east of 30th Avenue, between 52nd and 60th Street, into an innovation hub. The property has been dormant for over a decade. The project envisions an innovation center with an intrinsic connection to its surrounding neighborhoods – Lincoln, Columbus, McKinley, Wilson, Roosevelt and Uptown. It is intended to provide opportunities for education, workforce training, entrepreneurial development and placement in high-growth digital and STEM fields.
$ 15 million grant
In addition to the proposed new site for LakeView, the mayor announced that the city has applied to Governor Tony Evers for $ 15 million in state stimulus funds that would be used to pay for the site’s proposed innovation center, a 60,000 square foot incubator. facility ”for business creation.
About $ 9.75 million in state funding had already been included in the governor’s version of the budget to help fund the $ 19.5 million innovation center. However, this funding was omitted from the final version of the biennial state budget.
Antaramian said he expects to receive a response from the state “very quickly” on the $ 15 million grant that would allow the city to pay for most of the center, which, along with the high school, is part of the city. of the four main elements of the first phase. of the Quartier Innovation project.
During the briefing, Tom Rogers, director of the SmithGroup, which is assisting the city with the innovation district master plan, provided an update on the first phase, which also includes the two main roads bisectors, 28th Avenue and 56th Street. According to the plans for Phase 1, the innovation center and high school would be located along the northeast quadrant of the site along 56th Street.
Plan expected early next year
During the community sessions, residents provided input in person and through online commentary on everything from offices and residential spaces to green spaces and activity venues, among other things they want to see in. Development. The master plan and final design will continue to be fine-tuned, but could be submitted to the city planning commission and city council as early as the first quarter of next year, Rogers said.
If approved, construction of the first phase would begin in August 2023.
Over the summer, the city received a $ 4.9 million federal grant under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to fund road construction and projects. infrastructure for the site. The grant, which will be matched with the $ 7.4 million the city has pledged to fund, is expected to create 1,000 jobs and generate $ 500 million in private investment.
Antaramian said when he ran again five years ago his concern was that there were no opportunities for young people to stay in Kenosha. He said the site, well done, would become not only a regional but national draw.
“We’re doing it right, we’re going to see huge potential coming to this site for young people, businesses, people who want to have their own business and create their own jobs,” Antaramian said.
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