STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Rosalind Kealiher has owned and operated the cafe at The Rose House Wedding and Event Space since 2019.

What You Need To Know

  • Shopko stores closed around Wisconsin in 2019

  • Once-vacant stores stores and properties are finding new life 

  • Stevens Point purchased the building near downtown and will be redeveloping the site over a number of years

The business is downtown Stevens Point, an area she said is seeing some positive momentum.

“Compared to last March, there’s defiantly been pick up,” Kealiher said. “I think a lot of it is the weather, but also I think there’s a growing awareness of our downtown.”

More changes are in the works as the city looks at plans to transform a vacant Shopko site into a new development.

Rose House is just a few blocks away from the site.

“Having an empty building, that is not to our benefit,” she said. “Seeing growth and seeing more built up there will definitely be a good, positive change in our community.”

(Spectrum News 1/Nathan Phelps)

The vision for the site includes multiple residential buildings and mixed-used buildings that combine living areas with retail space. Concepts include a range of housing price points and public space.

Plans also include a new city transit center and reconnecting streets cut off by the vacant store.

“If you can create an environment where people are walking around, hanging out, there are things they want to do down there, things they want to see. You are creating a thriving environment for retail and commercial,” Mayor Mike Wiza said.

The city purchased the vacant building last year.

While demolition work on will get underway in the next few months, the full scope of the concept may take a decade or more to bring to fruition.

“You will see progressive changes beginning this summer where things are going to start moving along,” Wiza said. “That’s things we can do, like tearing down the building, reestablishing the road grid, starting the public space.”

(Spectrum News 1/Nathan Phelps)

Cara Adams owns Agora Makers Market in downtown. She said she would like to see affordable housing as part of the plan.

“Knowing that something is going to happen, there is a plus. I do appreciate that they’re going to look into affordable housing,” she said. “Stevens Point really needs affordable housing, and that’s something we’re just not seeing in the construction that’s going up right now. I hope that’s where it’s going to go.”

Kealiher grew up in Stevens Point and has seen businesses like Shopko come and go.

She said she’s confident in the future of the downtown.

“I’m definitely one of the one of the people who are more invested in it. I have a business here and I want to see success here,” she said. “I look forward to however that process occurs.”