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State approves nearly $1 million grant for Powerhouse riverwalk

The Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee approved a grant worth nearly $1 million in late February for a Riverwalk development for a further addition to Beloit College’s Powerhouse project.

The committee approved a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources request to fund part of the project, which will be overseen by the City of Beloit. The project calls for the construction of an 800-foot riverwalk on the western side of the Powerhouse property, which runs along the Rock River.

The grant, totaling $824,300, will go towards construction of the “Powerhouse Riverwalk Trail,” which will join the system of existing walkways along the Rock River. In their letter appealing for the grant, the City of Beloit and Beloit College argued that funding was necessary before bids could be advertised for construction work this spring.

“The project itself will open up a stretch of riverfront to the public that has been tucked behind the power plant in the past,” Beloit College President Scott Bierman said. “This gap in Beloit’s trail system has been complicated to fill. We believe that building the riverwalk while Beloit College constructs the Powerhouse student center is our one opportunity to fill in that gap.”

Construction to the Powerhouse, a project first proposed by Bierman in 2010, began to accelerate in late 2018, and that pace has continued early into 2019. Crews are routinely seen inside the building, while the right lane of southbound Pleasant Street just south of Portland Avenue, which runs along the structure, is occasionally closed due to the construction. Remodeling of the 120,000-square-foot facility, once a Blackhawk electric power generating plant owned by Alliant Energy, represents a $38 million investment for the college. Many of the contributions towards the Powerhouse have come via private donors, such as alumni of Beloit College and members of its board of trustees.

The City of Beloit is putting forth $1.5 million towards the riverwalk, aided by a previous Wisconsin Department of Transportation grant.

Last fall, the architectural firm behind the Powerhouse project’s design, Studio Gang, was recognized with a top prize at the World Architectural Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Studio Gang received the top overall prize among “2018 Future Projects,” and also took first place in the competition’s “re-use” category.

The Powerhouse remains on a track for a grand opening this October.

Source: Beloit Daily News

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