'We're halfway done': Construction continues in downtown West Bend, businesses remain open

NOW: ’We’re halfway done’: Construction continues in downtown West Bend, businesses remain open

WEST BEND, Wis. (CBS 58) -- With Phase II of West Bend's Downtown Riverwalk Project officially open, all eyes are now on the $4.6 million Downtown Reconstruction Project set to revamp downtown and officially open in late October.

CBS 58 first highlighted the project in April of 2023. After three months of work, West Bend City Administrator Jay Shambeau says the project is on course to be completed by the scheduled Oct. 27 end date.

"We're halfway done," said Shambeau. "We're excited about the conclusion of it. We'll celebrate it in a big way when it's open."

While excited for the work to be complete and the new look the project will provide downtown West Bend, business owners are currently tasked with trying to make ends meet without a steady flow of traffic due to S. Main St. being closed.

"It's been, I think, better than what we were anticipating, but still not great," said Nancy Laufenberg, who co-owns Laughing Mountain Popcorn with her husband, Mark, who spoke with CBS 58 back in April. "We're getting by week to week."

Just down the road, The Bend Theater has been putting on monthly concerts, bringing in over 300 people per event to help support the downtown economy.

"Pretty much all of them (shows) have sold out," said Executive Director Bill Buettner with The Bend. "People come to the bend for a show (and) are going to stop first to have a dinner or stop afterwards to have a cocktail. We feel good about it."

Buettner, Laufenberg and Shambeau all remain optimistic about what the project will do for the community overall, and hopeful people will continue to patronize the area shops during a time when they can use the business most.

"Sidewalks are a little rough right now. It's a little tougher to get to them," said Shambeau. "Businesses have concerns, no doubt, but we're with them, we're working with them and continuing to promote them and that they're open and remain open throughout the construction season."

"It just shows resiliency and creativity," added Laufenberg. "When push comes to shove, you can do things you didn't think you could do before. I know it's not pretty, but all these stores are here for you, and we want to be here for you when this project is over."

You can learn more about the project here.

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