Tag Archives: Downtown Winona

Parking causes issues for Friendship Center

The Friendship Center in Downtown Winona needs more parking as it is the number one complaint from members.  

The issue comes mostly because the Friendship Center serves the senior citizens of the area, many of whom have a harder time walking long distances or making it across the street in the time allowed. 

Roxy Kohner has been a member of the center for almost 11 years. She said sometimes she will come to the center an hour before an event to wait out a close enough parking spot. 

“I have driven by and without a place to park I had to turn around and go back because there wasn’t anything within the walking distance that I can do,” Kohner said. “I have also staked out parking. So I have come an hour ahead of time and I will park and do something in my car till I can watch and see someone pull out.” 

Malia Fox, director of the Friendship Center, said this is the most frequent complaint the center gets. 

A report from 2018 state there is adequate parking for the City of Winona. 

The report titled “Parking Study: Downtown Winona” was created by Walker Consultants. They studied an area of 42 blocks between the Mississippi River, Winona Street, Broadway Street and Kanas Street. 

Walker Consultants found that in the study area there were about 4,030 spaces available of which about 3,205 spaces were for public use. 

Parking continues to be a problem for the Friendship Center despite the findings in the Walker report.  

Across Fifth Street from the Friendship Center is the Main Street Square Development. The construction workers and equipment take up many spots that are closest to the center, which has caused more lack of parking.

Winona Major, Mark Peterson, said parking has been an issue for the center since it started 40 years ago. 

“The complaints are very real which is why the city has been looking at a solution to solving the problem,” Peterson said. “The past couple of years the city has seriously been considering moving the center.”

There will be a meeting on Nov. 13 to discuss parking further. 

There was talk from the city about knocking down the old middle school auditorium and creating a parking lot there. 

According to Kohner, that would not fix the problem.

“That is a band-aid because many of us have limited mobility. So even if we do have parking you’re talking two blocks away,” Kohner said. “I won’t be able to go two blocks either. I can go a block if a stretch it, half a block is perfect.” 

One quasi-solution the center had was making a deal with Wesely United Methodist Church which is next door to them. The Friendship Center can use the church’s parking area as long as the church does not have an event going on. 

The parking the church said the center can use is not reserved for the Friendship Center. It is public parking. 

The center has a membership of 1,000 people with an average daily attendance of 125. They also have staff coming in and out of the building every day. 

According to Fox, the Main Street Square Development across the street has hindered their membership. 

“In the last 6-8 months that this development has been occurring, we are watching our numbers drop for the first time in 25 years,” Fox said. 

Winona gets funky at the Levee

Rhythm @the River was attneded by people of Winona and the surrounding area on Sunday, Sept. 15, at Levee park. 

The event included dance lessons, live music, craft beer, and food trucks. 

Organizers spent between $12,000 and $15,000 to organize the event. 

Lee Gundersheimer, arts and culture coordinator at WINONArts said many sponsors believe in WINONArts and helped pay for the event, in addition to fundraising. 

Rhythm @ the River is an expanded 2018 version of “Swinging in the Streets.” 

Organizers said the event was moved to Levee Park and made it bigger because last year 400 people participated on Third Street.  

Molly Breitlow (left) helps a couple with their salsa turns. Breitlow and her husband taught both of the lessons at Rhythm @ the River.

Rhythm @ the River was created as a part of a series of events that WINONArts puts on according to Gunersheimer.

“The event is part of the Dance Plein Air events in WINONArts, the City’s initiative to bring as many folks together with the arts and through as many different art forms as possible, dance being one of them,” Gunersheimer said. 

Winona State Students Emma and Scout were on their way to study at Blue Heron and decided to see what was going on. 

The two got snow cones at one of the food trucks and sat down in the grassy area of the park to enjoy the music. 

“I really like the Spanish music,” Emma said. “I think we definitely would come to this again.” 

Golpe Tierra was the first band to perform during the night. They are from Madison Wis., and are an Afro Cuban Jazz and Salsa Band.

Rhythm @ the River was also the kick-off to Project FINE’s Welcome Week.

Welcome Week helps create a more welcoming community for immigrants and people who have relocated to Winona, according to Gunersheimer. 

Students “Take Back the Night” in downtown Winona

By Zach Bailey and Nicole Girgen

Take Back the Night, an event dedicated to survivors of gender-based violence, was held by the women, gender, and sexuality studies senior capstone class at Winona State University on Tuesday, April 9.

The event was co-sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center and Winona State’s RE Initiative.

Though the event has been held on campus for multiple years, this year Take Back the Night underwent a series of changes to their typical program, including a move to downtown Winona’s Central Park.

Woolen Lover performs "I am here" at Take Back the Night
Local musician and artist Woolen Lover performs their song “I am here,” encouraging those at Take Back the Night to add their voices to the recording. The annual event was moved to Winona’s Central Park from Winona State’s campus to be more involved with the community.

Molly Sarbacker, a peer advocate and educator for RE Initiative on campus and three-year veteran of the event, explained the changes.

“By hosting it in the community, it gives community members an opportunity to be involved in this,” Sarbacker said. “We’re making it more community based, kind of the grown up version of what Take Back the Night used to be.”

Molly Sarbacker speaks to the marchers.
Winona State peer advocate and educator for RE Initiative, Molly Sarbacker, encourages the crowd to chant louder as the march passes several bars in downtown Winona on Tuesday, April 9.

Along with the change of location, this year’s event also discontinued the section where survivors share their stories.

“Last year was super emotional,” Sarbacker said. “In the past we have had the march, then everyone gathers in East Room and has ‘speak out,’ which gave anyone the opportunity to come forward and share their story. With all the emotions it brings a lot of triggers.”

According to Sarbacker, the class in charge of setting up the event decided to make this change in order to make the event more centered around healing rather than trauma.

Nathel Kaiyepu performs at Take Back the Night
Winona State senior Nathel Kaiyeepu performs a cover of “Chandelier” by Sia at Take Back the Night on Tuesday, April 9. The event focused on creating a healing atmosphere for survivors of sexual assault.

“It’s been a great healing space, giving survivors the chance to share their story in an inclusive survivor- and trauma-centered space,” Sarbacker said. “I’m excited to see the changes without so much storytelling. This is a great night, but emotional.”

The night began with a group of speakers who were given the chance to either tell their story, or speak in support of the event.

Sydney Radler, senior social work major and co-president of Full Spectrum, Winona State’s gender and sexuality alliance club, was one of the speakers to tell their story during Take Back the Night.

“This is my fourth Take Back the Night, and I’ve spoken every year,” Radler said. “Every year I don’t think I’m gonna speak, but something comes up in me and I have to.”

Radler spoke about shame and Take Back the Night’s impact on the LGBT community.

Following speakers and musicians who discussed topics like violence against indigenous women and the importance of men speaking out, the group marched along Main Street and through downtown Winona.

Participants of Take Back the Night begin the march through downtown Winona.
Students and community members begin the march around downtown Winona for the annual Take Back the Night event on Tuesday, April 9. The march is designed to help survivors reclaim parts of town that are typically unsafe after dark.

The marchers received mixed reactions from community members, some honked horns in support and shook hands as they passed, others shouted obscenities from apartment windows.

Take Back the Night 2019 is now in the past, but the group is hosting events through the next week, including a “Healthy Masculinity Panel” on April 23.

Mason Jar bar finishing final stages of reconstruction

By: Zach Bailey and Madelyn Swenson

The downtown Winona building that housed the Mason Jar bar is back under construction after almost entirely burning down four years ago.

Greg Karow, building official for the City of Winona, has been following the reconstruction process of the building at the corner of Third and Walnut streets since the fire occurred.

The building sits on the corner of Third and Walnut streets. It was originally built in 1888. Since it was built there have been three renovations on the building.

“At first we looked at the building and it was designated as a hazardous building. The only thing left standing was the exterior walls, free standing without support,” Karow said. “The owner wanted to rehab it, and it’s a historical building on the registry; that process kept running into delays and that’s why it sat there.”

Karow and Bert Kimman, property manager of Walnut Apartments, agreed a main concern was stability of the walls.

The fire had destroyed all of the internal building, leaving only the original brick on the outer layer untouched.

“I had seen movement, so they had a company brace it all up,” Karow said. “It is a very unique building because it was old, the outside walls were structurally not able to carry any load. The construction technique was to build a superstructure inside the building, so nothing sets on the outside walls, they’re just tied to the inside. They built a building inside of the shell.”

Kimman described the process as building a new building inside of old walls.

“All the columns are steel columns,” Kimman said. “It’s basically a steel frame inside the brick.”

Construction on the main structure has been completed. Now, windows and doors are being put in place.

“We have a lot of work to do on the outside yet,” Kimman said. “By no means is it close to done.”

A worker nails in the trim in one of the 21 apartments in the building.

According to Karow, construction is nearing the two-thirds or three-quarters mark of completion, with most of the work left to do being plumbing, drywall and mechanicals.

Karow said city inspection staff has visited the property 12 to 15 times.

“There is inspection criteria for any building that we’re able to get in,” Karow said. “We look at things in milestones before things can get covered up. Because of the unique character of the building, we’ve been down there consulting quite a bit.”

Though the building is now under construction, the possible future of this building was different two years ago.

In June 2017, the Winona City Council announced plans to begin the demolition process of the building, after it sat vacant for more than two years.

According to Karow, interest to “salvage the building due to its historic nature” was what ultimately saved the building from demolition.

Building owner, Chase Hoffman had been pushing for renovating the building at the time, but was not finishing paperwork and meeting deadlines on time, Karow said.

“Even with the bracing up it was still a very temporary situation,” Karow said. “From my perspective, I needed to push [Hoffman] off dead center, either you are or aren’t, here’s a drop dead date, what are you gonna do?”

After the city “saved the building” from demolition, plans began to be made for what the building would house in the future.

Kimman and Hoffman plan to make the first level a commercial space, with 21 apartments throughout the rest of the building. No plans have been made as to what will open in the commercial space.

Kimman said it will not be another bar or restaurant because they did not put in the vents needed for that kind of business. He said the space will most likely be some kind of retail.

The apartments will range in pricing from $400 to $950 a month. Kimman has a few tenants lined up for the leasing year starting June 2019.

Though the building is in the final stages of the renovation process, this is not the first time the building has been under construction during the building’s time in Winona.

Since being built in 1888 the building has had three editions. Originally the building was only about half the size it is currently.

As construction nears the end, Karow shared his thoughts on the process the building has gone through during construction.

“It’s been a very difficult path and has taken a long time to get this thing going,” Karow said. “Now that it’s moving forward we see light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a very unique building, this is a considerable step up. We’re not done, but we’re getting there.”