By Press Release Submitted to Published Aug 15, 2023 at 11:10 AM

The City of West Allis has received a $27,931 Vibrant Spaces grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to assist in transforming a side street into a pedestrian plaza in the heart of the downtown.

The Vibrant Spaces Grant program is designed to help cities and towns revitalize underused spaces to build community and attract future residents. Through this grant program, communities across the state of Wisconsin will be investing in their workforce attraction and small business development by creating inviting, walkable spaces in their downtowns, arterial districts, and economic centers.

“Investing in vibrant communities where people want to live, work, and raise families is critical to attracting and retaining workers in our state,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s leading economic development organization. “These grants will help communities create new gathering places in thriving downtowns to draw in residents, visitors, new businesses, and investments.”

As a part of a broader effort to revitalize downtown West Allis, the WEDC’s Vibrant Spaces Grant and a private investment from Walter Holtz, owner of The Deco, a new event space in downtown West Allis, has funded the transformation of an underused side street into a pedestrian plaza. The plaza, located in the heart of West Allis, will serve as an event venue and community hub for residents and visitors. The plaza will be outfitted with outdoor seating, moveable bars, planters, and lighting paid for by grant funds and Holtz’s investment.

On weekends, The Deco, will use the space to host a variety of public and private events. When not hosting events, the plaza will serve as an inviting place to rest and recharge while enjoying downtown businesses and increasing the overall image of the area.

“We’re excited to bring a pedestrian plaza to Downtown West Allis because spaces like these energize the surrounding area,” said Mayor of the City of West Allis, Dan Devine. “We are very grateful to have partners like the WEDC and The Deco to share our vision and are willing to invest in it. It will bring foot traffic to the downtown businesses and build community within the neighborhood. If all goes well this first year, we expect more private investment in the space over the coming years.”

The Vibrant Spaces Grant program is an initiative within WEDC’s Community Development and Investment (CDI) grant program. Projects were evaluated based on their ability to create visible and pedestrian-oriented public spaces that attract and accommodate multiple users and activities. Successful projects demonstrated that they would benefit the local district, nearby businesses, and the community as a whole. Communities were required to match grant funds and begin construction this summer.

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