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Updated: Proposed Gateway Arch Designs Need Sprucing Up

The proposed rectangular shape of the arch was met with resistance. This will be the second sign this year designed to attract downtown visitors.

Updated 9:56 a.m.: Cost have been added

The Greendale Planning Commission wasn't happy with the proposed designs for a gateway arch meant to bring visitors to the Village Center shops, and sent them back to staff for further review.

Commissioners, including some shop owners, thought the rectangular shape of four of the proposed designs seemed too industrial and did not portray the “charm” of the Village. They spoke about the designs at the commission's Wednesday night meeting.

They preferred a rounded arch, but Village Manager Todd Michaels said that would cost twice as much as the rectangular one. The rectangular arch uses standard traffic signal poles, while a rounded arch would need custom-made supports.

The current estimated cost of the rectangular arch is $115,000.  This will change as the design changes. Grandhaven LLC, owners of part of Downtown, have agreed to pay half the cost up to $75,000.

The arch is part of an ongoing effort to bring visitors to the boutiques, shops and restaurants that comprise the Village Center. Another part of the plan is an

Village President John Hermes was opposed to the LED sign and feels building a rectangular arch would be placing "two bad signs" next to each other. 

Shop owners expressed their frustration that people who live in Greendale don’t know even know the Village Center exist, much less outsiders.

"For all the years I have come down here I swear I didn’t know there was a Village Center," said the husband of one of the owners . "I knew where Ray & Dots was. I knew where the DMV was. I actually got drawn into the Village Center…from when my son played football and I thought this was really nice."

Cathy Davenport, owner of Shoppe of Around the Corner said most her business comes from surrounding suburbs, not from Greendale residents and believes a sign would help bring outside people.

Roy Reiman, owner of Grandhaven LCC. and founder of Reiman Publications, suggested setting up a $1,000 engineering design contest for students in area schools as a way to cut costs. Grandhaven, LCC. is the landlord to many of the shops in the Village Center.

That idea was met with approval from the public and shop owners, but commisioners said it could delay the project because schools will be out for the summer. 

The Village has spent about $80,000 in the last five years trying to direct traffic to the Village Center. 

Lisa417 May 11, 2012 at 11:14 AM
"Shop owners expressed their frustration that people who live in Greendale don't even know the Village Center even exists" Wow, if the shop owners view us in Greendale as bumbling idiots who do not know their own community, it is no wonder most of their customers come from outside the community. I for one will think twice before shopping their again. In my opinion, the signs are a waste of money and an ugly eyesore. LED signs should not even be considered. They are not quaint and do not fit in with the style of Greendale. Stop making decisions for our community with greed in mind and see what is really good for our community as a whole.
Bren May 11, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Nothing says "historic district" like an LED sign, does it? The Village Board's actions in the last 3 years have done much to homogenize Greendale at the same time the Greendale Historical Society is working for formal Historic District status. The developer that presented plans for the so-called "underutilized" village parking lot, as I have been given to understand, never contacted the U.S. Dept. of the Interior about building in historic areas, or consulted the original Village blueprints. Seriously. Walmart, LED signs, second-hand store. Decisions are being made apparently without professional guidance. How much would it cost to Skype with experts from other historic areas, such as Alexandria and Williamsburg, Virginia? Or the USDI? Or get a few hours with a marketing firm, or even Macy's marketing staff, to review our local demographics to determine what type of clientele Greendale could attract, done correctly? Even someone who is not an expert would say with confidence that high-end local shoppers are not typically attracted to second-hand stores and Walmart. They are looking for the interesting and/or the unusual. The restaurants do well locally. Poll the folks there and ask them what else would bring them back? For the tourists, does a second-hand store add to their experience? Unlikely. It certainly doesn't add to mine. What was the board thinking.
Catherine May 11, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I cannot believe, either, that Greendale residents don't know about the Village Center. Greendale is not so big that one doesn't know where the Post Office, the Village Hall or the library are. I think that the arch will make Greendale look like an amusement park. It is a foolish and wasteful project.
SWeimer May 11, 2012 at 03:32 PM
We have had signage guiding people to the "Historic Village Center" for many years now and if that hasn't done anything for the Village Center Businesses why would an LED sign or an archway change that. People had no trouble finding El Beso when it opened or Macys. You have to give people something to come down to the Village for. Most of the stores close their doors by 5:00 p.m. so people who are working can't take advantage of what is down there. If we attract good businesses and restaurants then people will want to frequent them. Ask yourself.....what would bring you to the Village Center? You say there are those who don't know where the Village Center is then they haven't come to the Village Center for Village Days or the Fourth of July or the many other celebrations, than they aren't taking advantage of all that Greendale is about, and NO sign or arch will change that.
Greendale Citizen May 11, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Maybe we, the village idiots are smarter than the shop owners realize. Just because a store is right there in our Village Center does not mean it's affordable to shop at or frequent. Ricardo's might be good, but riducoulsly expensive to take a family of 5 to. My children are all teenagers, so it's like taking 5 grown adults. Ferch's...expensive. The spice shop has competition from Penzey's. A second hand store? What does that do for the shops there trying to sell new clothing? The shops in the village don't offer anything that can't be found more affordable outside the village. The bookstore must have realized that....gone. The shops hours are not compatible with people who work. The exception here is National Bakery, and the fault they have is not being open on Sunday mornings.
Bren May 11, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Greendale Citizen, I absolutely agree. Even the Taste of Home store is filled with cheap housewares from China, it would be naive of the Village Board to think that Walmart didn't scout out the entire area before descending on Greendale, choosing their underpriced shoddy products to directly compete with existing Village merchants. Ferch's is clearly priced for an old-timey one-off tourist trade, agree it's too pricey compared to its competition (e.g. Culvers). Second-hand stores are usually the first signs that a neighborhood is becoming shabby, in my opinion. And to be in what I'd consider the prime spot in the district, too. I wonder how long the lease is for? This is really not a good fit for the Village; if the lease can't be cancelled it should definitely not be renewed. Again, what was the board thinking. I agree 100% about the hours. It's frustrating. And it's a shame that National Bakery just ships in products instead of making goods onsite as the previous operator did. It makes it less special. Anyone can pull bakery off a truck. Perhaps a special committee should be formed to prevent those without vision from doing permanent damage. The Historical Society also needs to be a big part of the conversation. A restored, charming Greendale Village will do far more to generate revenue than hideous LED signs. How do we get this situation under control?
jeff ircink May 11, 2012 at 10:51 PM
if a Greendale resident doesn't know where the village center is...haha...i don't even have a great comeback for that one. how can ANYONE live in little 'ole Greendale and not know where our village hall and post office is?
Faith O'Connell May 11, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I have for years heard people admit they had never been to the Village center. We get mixed up with Greenfield and Glendale pretty often in the news. I think signs are a good idea, too many people think Greendale is Southridge. I especially liked the oval, it is more appealing.

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