Riverwalk

What is the mission of the Riverwalk Amphitheater Project?

To develop an iconic, multifaceted riverfront community venue that will inspire residents to gather in downtown Janesville regularly to enjoy a variety of enriching activities.

What does the project include?

The Riverwalk Amphitheater will be an open-air, outdoor performing arts venue and multi-use space in downtown Janesville.

The facility will include a large, scalable stage, multiple ground-level and raised seating areas, and support facilities, with a permanent concession, ticketing and restroom building.

Who will manage the facility?

The City of Janesville will own the facility and the Janesville Performing Arts Center will manage Riverwalk Amphitheater operations.

How does the Riverfront Amphitheater fit into other downtown Janesville development efforts? What is the larger vision for the Riverfront Amphitheater?

The Riverwalk Amphitheater is the southern anchor of the larger downtown Janesville riverfront revitalization plan. It is a critical cornerstone project.

A successful amphitheater project confirms that our community is committed to creating a brighter, more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.

Our vision is to re-imagine the Janesville downtown as a year-round hub for entertainment, community activities, education and commerce.

How was this idea initially conceived?

In 2007, Janesville residents, the Janesville Plan Commission and the Janesville City Council adopted a downtown plan that called for the development of a park with an outdoor performance space in this location. The current proposal is a direct extension of that publicly adopted vision and plan.

Developing the Riverwalk Amphitheater will serve as one of the first in a series of downtown improvements envisioned over the next several years.

How many attendees will the venue atract

The venue is designed to host events that draw anywhere from 500 to 4,200 attendees.

The objective is to establish a flexible, frequently used space for community events and gatherings. The majority will be community-based events that draw between 500 and 1,200 attendees up to three nights per week.

In addition, the intention is to host six to eight larger events, drawing crowds of up to 4,200 attendees from a wide geographic area and providing significant economic benefit.

 

Where will attendees park? How will that space accommodate up to 4,200 visitors?

A major component of the Riverwalk Amphitheater plan is parking identification, planning and management.

  • Not counting the parking spaces at the Hedberg Public Library or residential street parking east of Main Street, 250 public parking stalls are within 1,000 feet of the site and more than 450 are within a five-minute walk.
  • Within a ten-minute walk of the facility, more than 1,800 public parking spaces are available. This does not include the over-river parking deck, Hedberg lots or residential on-street parking east of Main Street.
  • For larger events, dedicated parking facilities with shuttle service will offer guests convenient, hassle-free parking and event access, reducing the traffic impact to the neighborhood.

In addition to providing detailed maps and other visuals to help patrons easily navigate parking, event staff will be engaged to manage traffic flow and monitor private lots.

Keep in mind we are planning for approximately six to eight large events per year that would require shuttle service. The rest will easily be accommodated with local parking within a short walk.

Are there any restrictions on the property?

As a condition of the City’s acquisition of the property from the School District, the property must remain as public space and may only be enhanced for public use.

All of the proposed structural enhancements are outside of the 100-year floodplain.

How will you work to ensure this doesn’t negatively affect the residents in the area?

The facility placement and design was selected to minimize noise to adjoining public facilities, businesses and residences. The permanent ticketing, concessions and restroom building forms a natural barrier between the event space and parking lot. While as with any outdoor performing space sound will travel to some degree, the steering committee thoroughly investigated the policies enacted by other similar venues and local ordinances to ensure noise pollution is minimized. The resulting plan ensures performances will never exceed 95 decibels and all city ordinances will be respected. Thoughtful scheduling, like limiting large performances to after business hours with reasonable end times, will also help minimize disruption.

During larger events, additional police and fire resources will be engaged to complement the Riverwalk staff patrolling the area. This will help mitigate loitering in the public and residential areas around the facility and negate vandalism. The space has also been designed to naturally lead visitors into the space via a paved walkway, a reasonable distance from public property. And, additional lighting in and around the venue should help discourage negative behaviors when the amphitheater is not in use.

Parking was thoroughly researched and identified. During events, traffic control will be provided, with private and public lots monitored to ensure a smooth and safe event.

What other steps have to be taken with this proposal?

A steering committee comprised of diverse community stakeholders has made, and continues to make, significant progress defining and developing the master proposal. Multiple public meetings regarding the Riverwalk Amphitheater project were conducted and ongoing outreach to local community stakeholder groups is underway.

The final proposal will go through a public approval process with various public bodies, including the Janesville Plan Commission and Janesville City Council.

By involving multiple stakeholders with different desires and points of view in the process, our goal is to create a venue that serves the needs of the majority and benefits the community at large.

Following public approval, a capital fundraising campaign will be launched.

How will the facility be funded?

The Forward Foundation, a non-profit operated by the economic development organization Forward Janesville, Inc., is working with a broad range of community stakeholders to mount a significant fundraising effort for the construction of this facility. The project will be funded by community dollars—private donations to the Forward Foundation from likeminded community members who believe in the future of Janesville. Grant funding is being aggressively pursued.

Why fund this project? What is the larger vision?

The Riverwalk Amphitheater will be an iconic landmark familiar to generations to come. It is the cornerstone project of a much broader vision for the revitalization of the downtown Janesville riverfront. This larger vision is founded on the Power of Ten. The Power of Ten represents the ten riverfront features conceived to enhance and revitalize downtown Janesville. It is based on urban planning research that found that an economically viable and sustainable downtown requires at least ten compelling draws to appeal to a wide range of visitors and thrive long-term.

We have other entertainment options, like JPAC. How is this different?

The Riverwalk Amphitheater will be a gathering space for community events that go far beyond concerts or theater performances. We envision outdoor festivals, farmers or specialty markets, non-profit fundraisers for community organizations and other celebrations. It will be multi-use. It is designed to bring people together.

Because Riverwalk is an outdoor entertainment and multiuse venue, it can be used in conjunction with JPAC to host indoor-outdoor and multi-stage events, providing additional flexibility and potential.

How is the Riverwalk Amphitheater different than the Marvin W. Roth Pavilion already being built?

The Riverwalk Amphitheater and Marvin W. Roth Pavilion are complementary but appreciably different facilities with distinct target audiences.

  • The Marvin W. Roth Pavilion is a small-scale facility for music performances that draw a smaller crowd, like the existing concerts in the park, and small community gatherings, such as speeches, parade starts and ceremonial or seasonal celebrations. For example, there are already pumpkin carving and holiday tree lighting events on the calendar. The pavilion might also be used for small weddings or dances. It is focused on less structured community events and gatherings with 500 or fewer guests.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Riverwalk Amphitheater is a large-scale venue focused on the arts, with the potential to provide a public space for large community events with more than 500 guests that require a significant footprint. For example, it might host large community festivals, outdoor markets and graduation ceremonies, in addition to large concert and theater performances. Its design will be more amenable to larger productions that have more complex sound, stage and traffic control requirements.
  • You can imagine these complementary facilities being used in tandem for larger festival events requiring multiple stages and venues. Irish Fest, for example, already requires multiple stages and continues to grow. Together, the two venues make a cohesive whole. We are building for the future.

Why is it important to the future of our community to support this project?

Part of the vision is to create a community resource, which complements, rather than competes, with other community interests. For example, as grant funding is sought out to fund the project, other community groups seeking funding will be engaged to coordinate and maximize dollars to Janesville—not just this project. Working together we can accomplish so much more—it means we can achieve our mutual goals to better this community that much more quickly.

The Riverwalk Amphitheater project is about much more than simply building and introducing a new community venue. It’s about developing Janesville’s downtown into a thriving city center that enhances the city and its residents’ quality of life.

The vision is to re-imagine the Janesville downtown as a year-round gathering place for entertainment, community activities, education and commerce.

How will the project benefit Janesville economically?

The Riverwalk Amphitheater has the potential to add well over one million dollars in annual revenue. And that’s just the direct effect. This doesn’t take into account the additional businesses—and revenue and jobs—that will spring up to complement the amphitheater or the monies from future development.

This project has the potential to enhance retention for local employers and attract new business and residents to our city. We must build for who we want to be. This is about aspiring to be something more, something greater. This iconic project will build momentum.


 

Is this project sustainable?

The Riverwalk Amphitheater Steering Committee has worked closely with key stakeholders, like JPAC and the City of Janesville, to ensure the facility is sustainable over the long-term. By engaging a diverse group of stakeholders and developing a proposal based on this varied input, we believe we have created a venue plan that will complement, not compete, with existing resources.

As the facility’s managing entity, JPAC will lead the charge, offering the hard-earned expertise it has gathered over the years. JPAC recently approved a five-year strategic plan that details their forward-thinking vision and lays out systematic plans to achieve this vision. This strategic approach will benefit the Riverwalk Amphitheater. We invite you to review JPAC’s detailed strategic plan, which is available to the public on their website. http://www.janesvillepac.org/jpac/community/2013-2017-strategic-plan/

How do we know JPAC is the right organization to manage the property?

We strongly believe in JPAC’s ability to fully live its mission to provide sustainable, first-class arts and entertainment programming relevant to a diverse population with varied interests.

Ten years out, despite a recession that crippled many similar venues, JPAC is profitable and self-supporting, without any taxpayer funding. They have hired an outstanding executive director and have substantial reserves. We are supremely confident of JPAC’s ability to manage the new venue.

Why is the Riverfront Amphitheater important to the economic future of Janesville?

Think of other cities with thriving downtown cultural centerpieces. Most struggled at one point or another with blight and dilapidation. But today they are thriving economic and cultural centers. There is compelling evidence that enhancing a community’s riverfront or downtown area has a positive, cascading effect on economic development—and other cities are moving in this direction, too.

  • Oshkosh, for example, has made this the “Year of the Riverfront,” and
  • Appleton re-imagined its downtown riverfront, adding a performing arts venue that sparked the grown of a hospitality district that Kenosha News recently credited with moving the area from “stable to very successful.” It continues to inspire new riverfront development projects, including the recent approval of a $7.2 million residential development.

The Riverwalk Amphitheater will be an ideal setting for festivals, which could have significant quality of life and economic benefits. According to a variety of sources, the estimated economic impact—and popularity—of festivals has been growing steadily in recent years. In 2013:

  • The economic impact of Summerfest for Milwaukee was $187 million (Source: Tourism Economics).
  • In Austin, South by Southwest brought in $218 million in additional spending (Source: Greyhill Advisors) and in Utah the Sundance Film Festival resulted in $70 million in additional spending (Source: University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research).

On a smaller scale, the Wisconsin Science Festival generated an estimated $1 million in additional spending across 20 sites with an average of 1,600 visitors per site (Source: Wisconsin Department of Tourism). This is an example of the type of event we might host in addition to concerts, performances and community events, bringing a significant source of new revenue to our city on a regular basis.

  • Current events would benefit, too. Locally, Irish Fest has grown to include multiple stages. Imagine how wonderful it would be to have a permanent venue like Riverwalk and complementary spaces like the Marvin Roth Pavilion to help enhance and support this and other similar special events.

It’s a domino effect. Development encourages progress. Working together, it is in our power to design a more prosperous future. This is a critical step on the path to success. Together, we can set the standard.

How can I get involved?

MEDIA:

  • Consider interviewing a Riverwalk committee member regarding relevant or breaking project news. We can arrange individual or group meetings.

INDIVIDUAL:

  • Attend one of the Riverwalk media/stakeholder events, or work with us to arrange for a spokesperson to speak to your local/regional organization.
  • We are happy to speak to any group interested in learning more. We encourage the community to get involved and ask questions.

INVESTOR/VOLUNTEER:

  • Invest in the project—either financially or by volunteering your time and talents—becoming an active participant in building the future Janesville.
  • What questions can we answer for you? We are happy to schedule a personal meeting with a steering committee member and provide more detailed information.

 

For more information, please call 608-757-3160 or email johnb@forwardjanesville.com.