Racine & Me: The Renaissance of Racine

CBS 58

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) - CBS 58's Alex Corradetti set up an entire episode dedicated to new, developing or updated spaces in Racine this week. 

The show was done from the top of Hotel Verdant in Racine. It's located at 500 Main St, Racine, WI 53403. 

Kelly Kruse is the Executive Director of Downtown Racine Corporation. She joined Alex on the rooftop to talk about the exciting changes coming to downtown. 

"In recent months, we have 11 businesses that have opened up their door or are on the brink of opening their door." 

Kruse also discussed their recent awards. At the recent 33rd Wisconsin Main Street Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) at Gather on Broadway in Green Bay, Downtown Racine Corporation (DRC) distinguished itself by securing three prestigious awards, marking a significant recognition for its contributions to revitalizing downtown Racine.

Executive Director of the Downtown Racine Corporation holding awards at the 33rd Wisconsin Main Street Awards Ceremony.  by Kelly Kruse

Best Retail Event

Winner: First Fridays, Racine

Best Promotional Marketing Campaign

Winner: Love Racine Project, Racine

Best Adaptive Reuse Project

Winner: Hotel Verdant, Racine

We also made a stop at Hotel Verdant in Downtown Racine. Mike O' Connor is the owner of the hotel and gave us a brief history of the space. 

Downtown Racine, Hotel Verdant is in the left corner.  by Alex Corradetti

"This is a historic preservation of the old Zahn's Department store which was a cornerstone of Racine for decades. This took over five years from beginning to end. We jumped through a lot of hoops, but it was worth the result in the end. We created this space to be the living room of Racine. We also have the historic Zahn's boardroom which has a lot of memorabilia and a lot of pieces of the original building on display," said O'Connor. 

"We want everyone to come to the rooftop for all the events that we have up there," stated O'Connor. 

The next stop was to The Inclusive Bean in Racine! It's a new coffee shop employing those of all abilities. 

Amelia Fahnrich runs the shop with her husband, Max. 

Max & Amelia Fahnrich who own The Inclusive Bean! by Alex Corradetti

"We're a coffee shop and we're new to Racine. We primarily employee teens and adults with disabilities. We are really just giving them the skills and resources they need to be able to be self-sufficient and independent so they can be successful as well. We have brewed coffee, espresso, we have frappes smoothies we have refreshers. 

Fahnrich told us the complex used to be the Horlick Malted Milk Factories.

A drone view of the Inclusive Bean, part of the space that used to house the old Horlick Malted Milk Factories.  by Cody Bergquist

"I actually believe used to be where employees would come and get their paychecks and would get paid out here. This whole complex is being redeveloped. We are excited to set the tone for the campus and hoping other businesses fall in place too," explained Fahnrich. 

There are not only new businesses in Racine, but new developments. We were fortunate enough to land a hardhat tour of Breakwater 233.

President, Randy Guenther, gave us a sneak preview of the space.

Breakwater 233 is a new development in Racine!  by Breakwater 233

"This is ideal for people looking to live near the water. We focus on spots where there is good walkability where people cannot just live... where they can go play go to restaurants. Downtown Racine is doing a lot to make that happen. We're excited to be a part of that, that's important to us. It's more than just where you live it's your lifestyle, and we consider this to be a lifestyle location," said Guenther. 

Breakwater will have more than two hundred apartments available, making room for about 350 people in the development. 

An outside view of what Breakwater 233 will look like when complete.  by Breakwater 233

Waterfront Living & city views, climate-controlled parking, and monthly social events are just a few of the amenities there. 

They also hope to connect the city, not only those living in the building. 

"We are connecting lake avenue all the way down to the lakefront with a sloping green space that we hope to welcome everyone to Racine too, not just for our building. It’s a great spot for a summer day we have ideas for food trucks on a summer day, artwork. Lots of neat things, it'll be a great place for people to come to," explained Guenther. 

Breakwater is located at 233 Lake Avenue in Racine. 

We also stopped by The Chartroom Restaurant and The Bridgetender Tavern, run by Manager Tom Landreman. 

The iconic ceiling at The Chartroom Restaurant in Racine includes a historic boat.  by Alex Corradetti

Landreman took over management of both spots along the water. He has big plans for them this summer. 

"In the 80's and 90s the chartroom here was the place to be. Many people in this town met their wives or husbands here. Our goal is to bring that all back as best we can, the things that people remember fondly. We put together the real key items the chartroom fish fry and the chartroom chicken, " explained Landreman.

Landreman is also in the process of renovating The Bridgetender Tavern, just across the parking lot from the Chartroom.

"The Bridgetender is really something unique. The place had been the place had been everything was out of it closed for five or six years. We came up with a pretty good plan. We will have sandwiches and fresh pizzas. I am really looking forward to getting this put together and open," said Landreman.

Landreman told us the Midwest Boaters Club is starting up right outside the two venues. 

Corey and Coran Coleman run the organization. They started their business in Milwaukee and are now expanding into Racine. 

We spoke with them before their official launch. 

Corey & Coran Coleman are starting up Midwest Boaters Club in Racine!  by Alex Corradetti

"Midwest Boaters Club was started originally to help people do water activities and learn about the city with a different view than what the normal person that comes to visit Milwaukee or Racine or any of the surrounding areas," explained Corey Coleman. 

The Coleman brothers are both residents of Caledonia now and wanted to create waves in the county they're a part of. 

"One of the major things is we want to change the landscape of this nice city. There are so many different things to do in Racine that people don't know about. The beaches here are nice, the river here is nice and nobody is taking the opportunity to try to expand into this area, so we want to change the landscape of Racine," explained Coran Coleman. 

We also made a stop by Festival Park in Racine County to see the updates just in time for the summer. 

Festival Hall received some major upgrades just in time for the summer! by Alex Corradetti

Kevin MacDougall, Director of Sales, for Festival Park, LLC joined us for an interview to review the changes made. 

Our management team 5K events and Racine Festival Park LLC has taken over management of Memorial Hall in Racine, Festival Hall and Rotary Park. We've seen many events come in over the years many great events and many events have gone away. Now we are working to bring all these events back. (cut out pause here) and reinvigorate a vibrant Racine," explained MacDougall. 

There are a number of upcoming events, to learn more about those, click here

Alex also stopped by Visit Racine County to speak with Executive Director Cari Greving. Greving spoke about what they do at the Visitor's Center and a number of upcoming events at both new and old businesses.

Essence is often found inside the Visitors Center at Visit Racine County. She's a sweet dog who represents Racine well!  by Alex Corradetti

The events they discussed are: 

1. Mount Pleasant Music Series

2. Magic Summer Garden Tour

3. Salmon-A-Rama 50th Birthday

4. Stillhouse Striders

To submit an event for consideration, click here

To end the show, we headed to a new and already beloved food spot in Racine County. 

Lupe Davalos is the co-owner of La Taquiza Guadalajara. She started her business in a small kitchen, moved to a food truck and now has her very own brick and mortar. 

She spoke about how she began in the food industry with us. 

Some of the menu items at La Taquiza Guadalajara by Alex Corradetti

"We started five years ago in 2019. We realized it was the right time for us, it was something my parents really wanted. They came here and sacrificed everything for us, so it was time to sacrifice everything for them. My brother and I had a conversation about birria it started to blow up in California and its traditional to where we are from in Guadalajara, a small town called Santa Fe," explained Davalos. 

Birria is a shredded beef plate which is cooked overnight and marinated with a lot of flavors. 

"We have a couple of different things on the menu too. You'll see Birria ramen, birria eggrolls, just things like birria with cheese that we started here in 2019 you got to try us out." 

To follow them on Facebook, click here

If you'd like to appear on Racine & Me, all you have to do is contact CBS 58's Alex Corradetti. She hosts and produces the show, as well as runs the social media pages. She would be happy to help you shine a light on the work you do in the Racine County community. You can also watch Alex every weekday morning on the CBS 58 Morning News from 4:30 am to 8am. 

CBS 58's Alex Corradetti is the host of Racine & Me. Contact her on social media to appear on the show.  by CBS 58

You can find all of our segments from the show on our website, here

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