Downtown Branding, Development & Marketing Action Plan

Plan Resources

Executive Summary PDF (4 Pages)
Full Report (102 Pages)
Roger Brooks 8/21/14 Presentation Slides
Roger Brooks 8/21/14 Presentation Video

 Plan Goals

  1. To increase visitor spending in both Wisconsin Dells AND Lake Delton by 30% over the next five years, particularly between the months of October through March, and during weekdays.
  2. To make downtown a year round destination for visitors.
  3. To make downtown the central gathering place for locals within a 20-mile radius (approximately 50,000 residents).
  4. To increase property values downtown.
  5. To increase the vitality of the businesses downtown.
  6. The make downtown Wisconsin Dells an attraction, rather than an amenity.
  7. To add cultural depth to the two communities.
  8. To make downtown feel safe, comfortable, clean and modern.
  9. To elevate the look of downtown to more of a premium dining and entertainment district.
  10. To increase the tax-base locally: for property owners who invest in this plan and will realize greater rents as a result; for tenants who are willing to pay more because business is substantially better; and for the city in terms of tax-base so that the city can afford to invest in downtown.
  11. To extend the seasonality of The Dells to make it truly a year-round destination.

The Challenges

  • Lack of publicly owned properties downtown beyond city streets (even Broadway is a state highway), sidewalks and parking lots.
  • Lack of funding in terms of general fund revenue sources.  This plan will rely heavily on access to state and federal grant programs, foundation funding, public/private partnerships, perhaps naming rights, and other non-traditional funding methods.

Plan Highlights

  • 43 recommendations
  • Plan execution timeframe – Sept, 2014 through 2018
  • Full plan execution budget
    – $38 million (high end)
    – Funding options include grants, WDVCB, private investments, naming rights/sponsorships, donations, local resources (PRT and/or room tax), BID funds

Major Capital/Development Projects

  • Redevelopment of Broadway
    – Removal of parking as appropriate
    – Widening of sidewalks to accommodate outdoor dining
    – Lengthening/addition of turn lanes
    – Improvement of traffic flow
  • Public Market/Amphitheatres
    – Programmed 200+ days/year
    – All events open to public
    – Amphitheatres cut into hill overlooking Riverwalk/Wisconsin River
Outside of Public Market
Inside of Public Market
Public Market Conceptual Master Plan
Public Market Pavillion
  • Public Plaza
    – Oak Street
    – Programmed 200+ days/year
    – Built-in sound system, movie screen, splash pad and skating rink
    – Art shows, concerts and entertainers
    – Improvement of traffic flow
Public Plaza
Location of Public Plaza at intersection of Oak & Broadway
Location of Public Plaza at intersection of Oak & Broadway
Public Plaza Rendering
  • Parking Garage(s) – La Crosse Street recommendation
    – Simplify parking system and wayfinding signage
    – Two garages initially (both right hand turn entrances)
    – Just after RR bridge (coming from west)
    – North of Broadway – approx. @ Elm/Cedar (coming from east)
    – Each garage would hold over 500 vehicles
Conceptual Locations
Conceptual Locations

Other Capital/Development Projects

    • Wayfinding
      – Use existing plan
      – Revise creative
    • Piped music
      – Special events (i.e. car shows, etc.)
      – Seasonal
    • Paint train trestle
      – No words allowed
      – Paint over highway and river
Painted Train Trestle
  • Install free wifi
    – Enhances outdoor dining, plazas and public market use
    – Could be funded by sponsorships
    – Login page could say “Your Internet session is sponsored by High Rock Cafe”
  • Create Master Development Plan for Exit 87
    – Become what Exit 92 is to Lake Delton
    – Fulfills a need for high-quality, large-scale retail or anchors
    – Revitalize the gateway to downtown

Other Recommendations

  • Contract for recruitment expertise
    – Orchestrate the business mix (like a mall)
    – Create ordinances identifying “allowable uses”
    – Annual contract (approx. 3 years)
  • Create a Festival & Events Organization
    – Would manage entertainment at Plazas and Public Market Pavilion (Including amphitheatres)
    – Could be the VCB and coordinate all downtown events
  • Downtown beautification
    – Rework sign ordinances (including blade signs, banners and sandwich boards)
    – Benches and flowers
Blade Sign Examples
  • Rename the district the River Arts District
    – Current name, Dells River District, does not sell the reason WHY people should visit
    – Brand promise is to be culturally rich
    – Adds depth to downtown and promises more than just t-shirts and souvenirs
    – The word “arts” is inclusive of:
    » Culinary
    » Visual
    » Performing Arts
    » Fashion
    » Artisans in action
    » Galleries
    » Logo gear
River Arts District

Other Recommendations

  • Encourage outdoor dining
  • Standardize operational hours (especially seasonally)
  • Create a shared worker program
  • Free parking to create trial
    – Evening hours as development begins
    – Special events
  • Experiential transportation system (not a bus system)
    – Bring guests to downtown from sports facilities or other key points (businesses could request/pay for a stop @ their business)
    – Circulate visitors along Broadway, regardless of where they parked
    – Trolleys are one option
Trolley Stop

Brand Development and Leadership Team Members

Brian Landers Mayor, City of Wisconsin Dells
Nancy Holzem City Clerk, City of Wisconsin Dells
Kelli Trumble Downtown business owner
Dan Gavinski Downtown, Wisconsin Dells business owner
Tom Diehl Village of Lake Delton Trustee, Wisconsin Dells business owner
Justin Draper Downtown business owner
Jesse DeFosse Wisconsin Dells BID Chair, downtown business owner
Kevin Ricks Downtown business owner
Romy Snyder WDVCB Executive Director
Jill Diehl WDVCB Board President

About Roger Brooks


  • Roger Brooks Team began working in Wisconsin Dells more than 10 years ago and inspired Wisconsin Dells to become “The Waterpark Capital of the World!®”
  • For over 30 years Roger Brooks and his team have assisted over 1,000 communities in 45 states in their efforts to become outstanding destinations.
  • Over his career, Roger Brooks recruited nearly $3 billion in new construction projects into rural communities and resorts. He is one of the world’s most sought after experts in place branding and marketing, and tourism and economic development.
  • Over several years the Roger Brooks Team has developed a 13-step process that, to date, has met with a 100% success-rate.