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'This is my life legacy,' Fond du Lac developer has big plans for historic downtown building

Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 04, 2024

The former site of Beernuts bar on Main Street in Fond du Lac has been a bar or saloon for the past 140 years — but that’s about to change.

  • Developer Sam Meyer is redeveloping the former Beernuts bar building on Main Street to create eight rental housing units and a retail space.
  • The project will cost $1.4 million and take between a year and a year and a half.
  • City officials say there's a need for more housing.

"This is building, it's got a lot of character and a lot of history," insurance agent and developer Sam Meyer said.
He said he bought the property in May, and plans to turn this 95,000-square-foot building into eight rental units and a retail space .

People who live here told me they're excited. I spoke with Tom Hernandez, who has lived in Fond du Lac his whole life, but just recently moved downtown.

"I live down here I'm much more interested in my neighborhood," Hernandez said. "I'm very pleased that Mr. Meyer has taken on this task, because it's good to develop the downtown area. We need more housing here."

That's something Amy Krupp with Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership said is needed.

"We have a great demand for residential living in downtown," Krupp said. "And because we're landlocked for space, the only place for us to add these residential units is in already existing buildings"

Joe Venhuizen with Envision Greater Fond du Lac says it could bring a different crowd downtown that could contribute to the workforce.

"It's very exciting, a younger person generally that's in that scene," Venhuizen said. "And so, I think it attracts the right type of demographic of the talent that we're looking for to fill jobs that are out there."

Meyer said the project will cost $1.4 million. He says he'll pay most of it on his own, but he’s also getting some money from the city and state. That includes a $200,000 forgivable loan from the city.

City Manager Joe Moore said the forgiveness will be based on the occupancy and success of the property.

“It's quite conceivable and frankly probably, hopefully, that the performance is so high that the entirety of the loan is forgiven," Moore said. "I'm optimistic about this."

Meyer said this is the sixth building downtown he owns.

"This is my life legacy, I guess for Fond du Lac, is fixing up some of these old buildings downtown," Meyer said.

Meyer said the development will take up to a year and a half to complete.