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Delphi Alternatives Begin To Take Shape

Options laid out at public meeting Thursday.

Multiple scenarios for the future of the former Delphi site and current Civic Center (City Hall/library) site were presented at a public-input meeting Thursday night.

That included two options for Delphi, 7929 S. Howell Ave., that addressed the much-debated question about where to put a new City Hall and library: one option had those buildings there, and one option didn't.

The centerpiece of the first option, in addition to the two municipal buildings, is a "walkable main street," lined with shops and restaurants. It also has new housing and a greenspace that could include any number of features, such as a farmer’s market or amphitheater.

The second option, with no Civic Center, includes a recreational complex, no housing and more retail options.

Graef also showed three scenarios for the current Civic Center site, 8640 S. Howell Ave. One with a new City Hall and library; one with space for a City Hall, library and expanded high school; and another with an expanded high school and some retail.

Some observations from the meeting:

- In no scenario does the Oak Creek Community Center move from its current location. There had been some murmuring that perhaps the center should move to the Delphi site, but that’s not on the table as of now.

- Retail is a virtual lock for being one of the components of the Delphi site. What will go around it (housing, a recreation complex, etc.) remains to be seen.

"It's a prime quarter for retail,” Graef associate Carolyn Esswein said. "This is one of the (busiest) corners of the city. There definitely would be support for retail. We have to make sure the right type of retail is on this site."

- For most of these discussions, the City Hall and library have been seen as, for lack of a better term, "going together." They have always been talked about in the same breath and people have assumed they will end up next to each other.

However, a lot of talk Thursday questioned that premise and some suggested it may be better if they are split up. Residents rarely go to City Hall, but the library is much busier. Some speculated that the library could be part of the Delphi redevelopment because of its ability to attract people to the site.

- The sale of the Delphi site to Wispark LLC is expected to close on July 12, Wispark President Jerry Franke said. 

Wispark is the development arm of We Energies and is paying $6 million toward the cost of the purchase; the city has committed to $2 million.

- Turnout for the meeting was quite low. About 30 people were in the audience, and many of them were affiliated with the city.

Looking ahead

So, what's the next step in the Delphi redevelopment process? The city will select a preferred alternative and bring that to the public for debate in a future meeting, Community Development Director Doug Seymour said. When exactly that will happen is uncertain, but within the next few months is a safe bet.

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