Anyone who hasn’t been to North Tower Avenue and downtown Superior in a while and who recalls nothing but a desolate, post-apocalyptic expanse of cracked concrete, dusty vacant lots and swill joints ought to take another look — a new and fresh look.
A seven-year, $10 million-plus streetscape transformation expected to wrap up this summer has turned the once-revolting and unattractive heart of Northwestern Wisconsin into quaint and inviting. Dare we say “cute”? There’s green galore, especially in the boulevard down the center of the avenue, and plenty of shade from newly planted trees. Traffic flows more smoothly and safely now. There are lanes for bicycles and safer places for pedestrians. And there’s decidedly less litter.
Still to come are new bus shelters, lights in the trees, tile inserts in planter boxes, and more niceties.
“It’s a changed area. It looks great. And it’s not even done. It’s not even a completed project,” Kay Tenerelli, executive director of the Superior Business Improvement District, told the News Tribune Opinion page Friday. “We’re just really happy with the way this turned out. It has become really a sense of community pride in Superior. Long time coming. This isn’t going to cure all the economic needs of downtown, but it certainly gives us a leg up.”
A downtown more inviting to residents, visitors and businesses can be a key first step toward lasting prosperity, a goal of cities big and small.
Already in Superior, a new donut shop was expected to open on North Tower Avenue Friday, Tenerelli said. A clothing boutique is expected to open in August. So is a new restaurant in the historic Androy Hotel building.
“There are things happening,” Tenerelli said. “You know how that goes: As one thing happens, it becomes a tug. The momentum builds. … You can just kind of feel people feeling differently about our downtown. People are stepping forward to help take care of things. People are stepping forward to pick up litter.”
People care again. It’s the sort of turnaround welcomed by any community. It’s an accomplishment many doubted could ever happen in Superior.
Congratulations and applause are in order for Tenerelli and others with the Superior Business Improvement District, and for city officials, chamber leaders, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, landscape architects, construction workers and everyone else involved in this rebirth.
They all deserve a party — and have planned one starting the evening of Friday, July 25, when Tower Avenue taverns will offer music, drink specials and prizes. Saturday, July 26 will be a day of family fun in celebration, including music, children’s games, arts and crafts vendors, food carts, demonstrations, a car show, sidewalk sales and more. Go to superiorbid.com for more details.
Then go. The public is invited to help celebrate — and to take a fresh new look at downtown Superior.