Ground Broken for Kaukauna Mill Redevelopment

Milston, Bill. Fox 11 Green Bay, November 5, 2014.

After roughly five years of talk, plans to redevelop a 130-plus year old former paper mill are moving forward.

A groundbreaking today on plans to renovate the Historic Eagle Mill in downtown Kaukauna.

The old mill - formerly home to Thilmany Papers - will house the public library, provide retail and commercial space and also serve as a paper company's headquarters. Thilmany is now owned by Expera Specialty Solutions.

"When you look at preservation projects like this, and what it can do to the community," said Lee Hammen, the manager of Expera's Thilmany Mill in Kaukauna, "this is a cornerstone part of this community and it's going to be here for a long time."

The state gave the company a $1 million loan to relocate its headquarters to the 82,000- square-foot building.

"Long time, but good projects are always worth waiting for," said Randy Stadtmueller, the building's owner and the developer behind the roughly $8 million project.

Stadtmueller says federal and state tax credits, grants and more than one-million dollars in future city tax dollars makes the project possible.

"It's an important community project and an important real estate investment for the community," he said.

Especially the library.

The community raised about $600,000 to support the library's future home. The library will more than double its size in the move to the mill's first floor, featuring an auditorium and much need space.

"This is actually the cheaper alternative," said Tony Wieczorek, director of the Kaukauna Public Library. "Libraries are moving the direction of being more than just warehouses for books but places where people can network, with each other."

Kaukauna's mayor Gene Rosin says the development is essential for the city's future, while preserving its past.

"This particular mill was known as the eagle mill. This was the very first mill of multiple paper mills that were up and down the Fox River in Kaukauna," Rosin said.

Stadtmueller says construction is expected to start next week and should last about a year. park.