The Changing Face of Phelps

The Future of Downtown Phelps


2015 was a bittersweet year. This was the year that a building that stood tall on the shore of North Twin for a century came down. The view it’s disappearance left was one that was both shocking and beautiful. The change in scenery caught many lifelong visitors by surprise and took quite awhile to adjust to.

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The day the Big Store fell, crowds gathered to witness what could be a turning point for this small town. The crowd was a calm one, and a patient one. Many stayed to watch for hours. There was no cheering, but there was no crying either. It seemed to be the general consensus that the store wasn’t really down until the massive chimney came apart. It was quite the sight to see on a summer morning. The question of the day was “What’s to come for Phelps?”. After a summer and fall of enjoying the freshly emptied lot with concerts, celebrations, and festivals, this question is getting closer to an answer.

The New View of Downtown Phelps?

So what will the future downtown Phelps look like? There are buildings being renovated and plans for a new building, and we are all curious to see the finished results. What will take the place of the Big Store? Here is the latest rendering:

General Store Renderings-page-002

General Store Renderings-page-001


What are your thoughts on this potential perspective of the new downtown Phelps? Would you take advantage of a general store or kayak rental shop in Phelps? Share your opinions with us by commenting below!

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  1. Jon and Sheryl Ward February 20, 2016 at 10:55 PM

    Would love a general store and also hardware again.
    Running to Eagle River takes a lot of time away from enjoying why we are there.
    Would definitely aupport one or both.
    Our second home and proud of it!

    • Celeste February 23, 2016 at 3:59 PM

      Jon & Sheryl – you are very right, the more time on the lake or unwinding with nature, the better! Thanks for sharing your input. ~ Celeste

  2. Jeffrey Sanders February 20, 2016 at 11:51 PM

    The design has its appeal. However, the parking lot in front of the building tells me that we want you to drive here, buy what you need, then go back where you came from. Consider moving the parking to the rear and adding a veranda. Something that says, “Sit down and relax, stay here a while. And while you’re here, walk over to the museum or dip your toes in North Twin.”

    The ‘Big Store’ parcel is literally and figuratively lakefront property. Success here will set the tone and catalyze development and redevelopment within and around the town core. Parking lots in front of businesses belong in suburban mini malls, not centerpiece developments in a beautiful northwoods town on a lake.

    • Celeste February 23, 2016 at 3:58 PM

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! An outdoor seating area would be really nice with that wonderful view we have of the lake! ~ Celeste

    • Celeste February 26, 2016 at 3:33 PM

      Jeffrey – I just spoke with our town board chairman and he asked me to mention that the design with the parking lot in the front has a good reason. Should the building be in the front of the property, the view of the lake would be blocked considerably, so this particular layout allows the town to maintain the view and enjoy the new development. Thanks again for sharing your feedback! ~ Celeste

  3. Heather Kerins February 21, 2016 at 1:14 PM

    Definitely a general store! Would save Phelps residents gas in the long run!!

    • Celeste February 23, 2016 at 3:57 PM

      I think many of us, both full-time and seasonal, residents agree with that! ~ Celeste

  4. anonymous February 22, 2016 at 4:41 AM

    I am a huge supporter of the revitalization of Phelps. I am not sure what the answer is as far as businesses go. What I will comment on is the architecture. It is such a “safe” look. Isn’t it time that Phelps push forward and be just a TINY bit progressive. We are never going to out “log cabin” the tourist hot spots like Minocqua so why try? I think it’d be really cool to honor the heavy Scandinavian heritage of Phelps and do something with a modern architecture flair. I am thinking glass, stainless steel, light beach wood floors. Simply look at some of the amazing boathouses in Finland and Sweden. If people are afraid of the modern aesthetic perhaps going with an organic architecture (ie. Frank Lloyd Wright) approach would be interesting. Frank Lloyd Wright was from WI and his architecture school spends half the year in Spring Green, WI. Perhaps we could convince the Frank Lloyd Wright school to work on this project. It reminds me of something they would be interested in.

    • Celeste February 23, 2016 at 3:56 PM

      Interesting comments regarding the architecture – thank you for sharing your thoughts! ~ Celeste

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