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April 22, 2014

MADISON - The city of Prairie du Chien plans to expand its retail offerings and grow a couple dozen new jobs with the help of a $130,000 brownfields grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR awarded a Ready for Reuse grant to the Redevelopment Authority of Prairie du Chien to clean up a now-vacant lot near the city's north side, known locally as the Block 43 Gateway Project, making way for a new hardware store, garden center and greenhouse.

"The Ready for Reuse grant will enable the city and its business partners to redevelop this key gateway to Prairie du Chien's historic downtown," said Dave Hemmer, mayor of Prairie du Chien.

Beginning in the early 1900s and spanning nearly a century, several commercial and industrial businesses occupied the Block 43 property, including a bulk-oil storage facility, livestock feed manufacturing, construction yard and fertilizer storage. The new hardware store and garden center development will help increase the property value on the land to more than $1 million and, when finished, create more than two dozen jobs.

"DNR staff in the regional and central offices have worked hand in hand with the city to find creative, safe, efficient and effective solutions to turn this contaminated site into a development that will enhance the community and make it an even better place in which to work, live, and visit," Hemmer said. "Without the technical and financial support from DNR, this project would not be possible."

Ready for Reuse grants are federal funds given to communities by the DNR to clean up contaminated properties known as brownfields. To date the department has awarded 23 grants and six loans totaling more than $8 million to 20 communities.

The funds will be used by the city to remove soil from the nearly 1.5 acre lot and cap it off to contain any remaining contaminants - polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and assorted metals.

The grant awarded to the city required Prairie du Chien and the hardware store to provide a combined 23 percent match. Additional funds from the city and a private developer will help with the project.

"These Ready for Reuse dollars help kick start environmental cleanup and economic development all around Wisconsin," said Christine Haag, brownfields specialist for the DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program.

Haag said funding is still available for communities, and interested parties can get more information by searching the DNR website for keywords "Ready for Reuse."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Haag, 608-266-0244

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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