RDA hires first consultant for cheese center project in 133 E. Mill St. building

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Redevelopment Authority has a consultant on board for its efforts to create a cheese center in downtown Plymouth.

The RDA Thursday approved a contract with Retailworks of Mequon for design services for the renovation of the 133 E. Mill St. building.

“The intent is to have them provide us with consulting services as we start to put together some kind of renderings, which may be important to us as far as construction,” Gentine told the RDA members.

The $1.85 million project will eventually convert the vacant 133 E. Mill St. – purchased by the RDA after a tax foreclosure – into a retail cheese store and heritage center on the first floor and basement levels and apartments on the second floor.

Retailworks has provided retail consulting services for a number of clients, Gentine noted, including most recently for Road America and their new gift shop/visitors center at the Elkhart Lake track.

Gentine noted that the new gift shop has been a huge success for Road America since it opened this season, with a huge increase in merchandise sales.

Former downtown manager Randy Schwoerer, who will be working with the RDA on the 133 E. Mill St. project, will be talking to Road America officials about their experiences with Retailworks, Gentine noted.

The goal of the project, as defined by Retailworks in their agreement with the RDA, is “To create an informative and engaging environment that has a broad reach – appealing to target markets of all ages.”

It will include a retail store, cheese order counter and heritage/visitor center.

“The intent is to have the history of cheesemaking in Plymouth, so people know how all this started,” Gentine explained. He added that the Plymouth and Sheboygan County historical societies will be part of the process as well.

“We know that 15 percent of the cheese consumed in America moves through Plymouth,” Gentine observed. He envisioned the center encompassing not just the cheese industry in Plymouth but in Sheboygan County and the surrounding area as well.

RDA member Donna Hahn, executive director of the Plymouth Arts Center, noted that one thing many visitors to the arts center ask about is where they can go to learn about Plymouth’s cheese industry and heritage.

Gentine recommended that Schwoerer remain in touch with the Downtown Plymouth Association – which he worked with as downtown manager – about the cheese center project as it moves forward.

“Once this project is complete it should have some ripple effect on other businesses downtown,” Gentine predicted.

“Ultimately, this is one piece of the puzzle,” City Administrator Brian Yerges agreed. “We’d like to continue to build on this.”

Yerges noted that, as part of the city’s trademark of the “Cheese Capitol of the World” slogan, the city also has registered a number of potential Internet domain names connected to that slogan which could be used for a website in conjunction with the center.


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