Oak Creek breaks ground on Drexel Town Square

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by Lane Kimble

OAK CREEK -- People in Oak Creek will soon see plenty of construction going on at the corner of Drexel and Howell Avenues.

"This is literally the center of the city and we want to make sure people have things to do together as a  community," Mayor Steve Scaffidi said.

Scaffidi and other leaders broke ground on the city's 85-acre "Drexel Town Square" Saturday morning.  It will  feature a new city hall, library, apartments, restaurants and businesses wrapped around a huge public square.  Water Street Brewery will anchor the restaurants with hopes of many more joining.

"This is a true downtown in a suburb, something that really doesn't happen," Scaffidi said.

The land used to house an industrial park, but over the decades buildings were demolished, leaving the property next to Woodman's Market empty for three years.

"We've decided to invest in the infrastructure of our city and I think that's why you see this growth, so it doesn't  impact our property tax payers," Scaffidi said.

Oak Creek will use more than $1 million in state grant money and cash from businesses that plan to move in  to help pay for the nearly $30 million project.  The development will add more than 1,000 jobs.

"We're ready to start having the space and the opportunity to offer so many more services," Library Director Jill Lininger said.

Lininger expects the new library to include more computers, laptops and a media center where  people can edit videos, but she looks forward to creating an overall attraction too.

"I hope that they want to come back," Lininger said.  "I hope this becomes a destination and place they want to come back and visit  and make a day trip of."

"[The community] came together and they always ask me, 'What can we do?  What can we do to help?  How can we be a stronger community?  This is a part of  that," Scaffidi said.
 

Construction will begin in the next few days with most major pieces in place by the end of 2014.  Nearly everything should be built by June 2015.

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