Changes are happening in Winona, bringing new life to the town we know while keeping everything we love about it intact. For the outdoor lover, for the festival goer, for the culture seeker, or just the reminiscer – there are new things to see and do around every corner.
An Outdoor Lover’s Paradise
Winona’s Parks & Recreation Department continues to build their vision for the future in this outdoor playground we all love. One of the newer developments is the Winona Ice Park, which is heading into its fourth season. Now located just west of the Sugar Loaf bluff, the park started with the help of the Minnesota Climbers Association and was inspired by similar parks in Colorado and Sandstone, Minn. It continues to grow in popularity, attracting climbers from around the state and nation.
Looking ahead, the near future will bring to life the new master plan for the Bluffs Traverse, which is located along the north-facing blufflands overlooking the city and includes a series of three destination parks: Bluffside, Garvin Heights and Sugar Loaf. Part of the city’s plan for the Traverse includes the development of miles of paved and unpaved multi-use pedestrian and bicycle trails that, once complete, will connect the 523 acres of blufflands to the larger system of city, county and regional trails.
The City of Festivals
Music, theater, film – we’ve got your festival flavor. Summertime brings the Beethoven, Great River Shakespeare and Dixieland Jazz Festivals. Boats & Bluegrass comes in the fall, followed by the Frozen River Film Festival in winter. And in spring, it’s all about Mid West Music Fest. This year, the event was moved to May in order to incorporate more outdoor performance venues as the festival continues to grow, now split into two weekends: one in Winona, one in La Crosse.
Historic Downtown Charm
Levee Park, overlooking the Mississippi River in downtown Winona, was an often-underutilized treasure. That has all changed with the completion of the park’s facelift. The park now features an elevated plaza and lawn for outdoor entertainment, a gateway/pedestrian plaza that provides easy access between the park and downtown, and the same expansive river views we never get tired of. No longer underutilized, the park is a constant destination with events ranging from the Live at the Levee concert series, the Winona Holiday Market, weekly farmers markets, Let’s Levee events, the Big Muddy Brew’N Que and more.
Elsewhere downtown, the number of historic renovations continues to grow, with a new project taking place at 102 Walnut Street. Opening mid-2019, the refurbished historic building will house a number of retail spaces and apartments. One tenant that signed on early was Nosh Restaurant & Bar, previously located in Lake City, Minn. The project is spearheaded by the same developer who completed renovations to the historic Latsch and Riverfront buildings close by.
It won’t only be historic renovations on display in downtown, though. Opening early spring 2020 is Main Square Winona – a new development that will cover the entire city block where Hardee’s once stood, before closing in 2017. The development will feature both luxury and market-rate apartments with underground parking, retail and office space, and a Winona Health clinic. And next door to the new complex will be Main Square Montessori, a brand new non-profit, independent learning center for toddlers through kindergarten.
Another planned addition to the downtown skyline is the new headquarters for Fastenal along the riverfront. A few blocks away, where the YMCA currently stands, will be ample parking space for those Fastenal employees working from the new location. But what about the Y? Not to worry – after years of planning, the YMCA will be building a brand new facility with views of Lake Winona – right next to Winona Health along Highway 61.
Continue west down Highway 61, you’ll come across the old K-Mart, which closed in 2014. With construction underway, the building is on its way to becoming a Gundersen Health System clinic providing primary care, urgent care, an outpatient surgery center and a variety of other specialty outreach services. The new clinic is expected to open in phases from late 2019 into 2020.
But these aren’t the only new things to see in Winona if you haven’t visited lately. Here’s a snippet of other changes you can expect to see:
- The Bluff Country Co-Op recently doubled in size – expanding into the old space which once housed the A&P Grocery Store, followed by a series of bars including Nasty Habit, Schyde’s and MC’s.
- Island City Brewery opened in March 2017, quickly becoming a popular destination and event venue downtown.
- The historic YWCA building is currently in the midst of being renovated to house Partners in Excellence, an autism center for children.
- Two brand new hotel developments: an AmericInn on the west end and Fairfield Inn & Suites on the east.