October 13, 2017 by Jill Christensen
When driving through the town of Audubon one can’t help but notice the various construction projects happening throughout the community leaving both residents and community leaders excited about the future of the community. Troy Wessel, president of Audubon County Economic Development said, “It’s really a fun time for our county when we can see the finish line for the projects that have been diligently planned and have a positive outlook for what will be available in the region for years to come. I can’t help but think about the differences between what is available today versus what will be available when these projects are all complete. It’s about local choices and regional drawing power. Those that are here, know the quality of life we share and will have more to do right here at home. Those that are drawn into the region will come to know the value our core existing businesses have to offer them as future customers.”
The biggest and most visible project currently underway is the construction of Waspy’s on the cities south edge. When complete, the Waspy’s campus will feature a 24-hour restaurant and convenience store, with 16 gas and nine diesel pumps, truck wash, truck service station, rv dump site, 30 room hotel with a conference room and swimming pool covering 80,000 square feet of land. The brainchild of the Lawrence Handlos family, Waspy’s expects to employ 70 people in both full and part time capacity and bring an economic boon to the area.
Sara Gomez with Midwest Partnership, the economic development corporation serving Audubon County, said that an economic impact study was done on just the full time jobs that will be added to Audubon Waspy’s and their effects.
“Just the full time jobs (at Waspy’s) will have a ripple effect adding 12 other jobs to the area,” she said. “Examples would be child care workers, teachers and assistants, stock and file clerks, with an overall combined earning of $300,000 per year. That is a huge boost to Audubon.”
With new jobs comes the need to house and entertain the potential new employees coming to town. As far as the entertainment factor is concerned, Audubon Community Cinema and the Audubon Recreation Foundation are full speed ahead on their respective projects.
The Audubon Community Cinema Group is nearing the completion of the total renovation of the Rose Theater.
Linda Blomme of the ACC said, “The interior painting is completely finished. Speakers and wall fabric for the theater room have arrived. Seats are ordered and should be arriving within the month. Lobby décor plans are being fine-tuned and the movie studio (Fox, Disney, Universal, etc.) contracts have been completed and sent back, as order to show movies from any studio, a contract needs to be on file and approved.”
The Audubon Recreation Foundation is also pleased to announce that the progress of the Audubon Rec Center is moving rapidly. Badding Construction was hired as the general contractor for the project early last summer and work has been moving at a fairly rapid pace.
Steve Schmitz of the ARC said, “Progress continues at the recreation center. Approximately half of the steel studs are up. The electricians have been wiring the outlets, switches and lights as the walls go up. The large red columns and beams are being painted black to match the black simple saver liner. A modified kitchen layout has been completed so the final interior concrete can be poured. In addition the east end of the building can be closed in as soon as the building crew returns to Audubon. The brick continues to go on and soon the patio and front vestibule concrete will be poured. Colors and materials are being chosen for the building’s interior.”
Perhaps one of the most intriguing projects is happening at the Boardwalk Bakery. Bryan Olson and Tina Blackburn, took ownership of the building most recently known as the Boardwalk Boutique, along with the property adjacent to the building, which was the scene of the July 4, 2014 fire, earlier this year. They are in the process of gutting the existing structure with plans to open a bakery, called the Boardwalk, with a park and outdoor eating area planned for the green space net door.
During deconstruction, the duo uncovered the original wrought iron pillars that once graced the entrance to the Isis Theatre, which had long ago been covered up.
Blackburn said, “We knew the pillars were there because we had the original building plan. I wanted to leave them exposed, but Bryan thought they would need too much work. Ultimately we decided they just looked to cool to cover back up!”
Among the other interesting items unearthed during the renovation was the original neon sign from the Isis.
Blakburn noted that the sign still worked and it simply needed rewired. The sign and a few other items from the theatre’s heyday will be on display when the bakery is complete.
The duo is bringing the maple wood floor back to life and is leaving the east wall exposed brick. A fire place will also be installed.
“This isn’t just going to be a bakery and coffee shop,” Blakburn said. “This will be a destination. A place people want to come to and hang out.”
They hope to have the bakery and coffee shop open before the holidays.
The Friendship Home is also in the midst of a complete facelift, as a $2 million renovation and remodel has begun at the long-term care facility. The upper level has been gutted and construction will soon begin on 28 private residents rooms that will each have their own full bathroom with shower. The Memory Care Unit will be renovated and moved to the lower level in order to have outdoor patio access and the Home’s therapy department will have a new space that will be able to accommodate outpatient services. Work on the facility is to be completed in the spring of 2019.
Watch for in depth updates on each of these projects in the Audubon County Advocate Journal in the coming weeks.
Courtesy of Jill Christensen, Audubon County Advocate Journal, 11/13/17.
Audubon Community Cinema progress report community development Audubon Audubon County Rose Theatre Audubon Rec Center Audubon County Advocate Journal Waspy's Truck Stop Audubon County Economic Development