Fremont River Deck opens
Project features event space, storefronts
By Angie Landsverk
Redeveloping a property that sat vacant for years into the new Fremont River Deck was a community effort.
“The whole project is privately owned and funded,” said Allie Gleisner.
She is a member of Friends of Fremont, the limited liability company (LLC) that formed in the summer of 2018 after an auction was posted for the property.
The LLC had the winning bid and closed on the property in September 2018.
Friends of Fremont partnered with McMahon Associates and Keller, Inc. to design and build the space.
Demolition and construction began in late 2019 at 204 Wolf River Drive.
The Fremont River Deck includes an event space that seats about 250 people.
There are also two storefronts, about a dozen boat slips, public restrooms and showers for boaters.
The soft launch of the new space took place on April 22.
“It feels a little bit surreal,” said Gleisner.
Friends of Fremont
Friends of Fremont has 17 members.
Bob Schnettler is also among them.
Gleisner describes him as the brainchild behind the project.
“It was his idea,” she said.
The former Channel Cats Bar and Restaurant property had been on the market for some time.
Schnettler remembers a conversation he had during the summer of 2018.
It was at Pine Grove with Andy Parry, who grew up in Fremont.
“If the owner of Channel Cats came and said here’s the deed to the property. You can have the key. What would you do?” Schnettler asked Parry.
Schnettler said Parry’s response was, “Tear it down and build a green space, park so you could enjoy the river again.”
Not long after that conversation, Schnettler saw an auction sign replace the for sale sign on the property.
That meant there was a deadline.
“I was afraid if the wrong person bought it, it could change the look of Fremont for many, many years,” he said.
Schnettler had a vision to fix what he described as a “wrong” in Fremont.
“I made a bunch of phone calls,” he said.
He invited them to a meeting at his home.
Thirty-two people showed up.
“At the end of the day, we had the commitment we needed and went forward with the bid and won,” Schnettler said.
The group had no plan at the time.
“The original intent was to tear down the entire building,” he said.
Denny Lamers is also a member of the LLC and asked if McMahon Associates could help develop a usage plan for the space.
What the Fremont River Deck looks like is the result of giving the firm 30 days to come up with ideas and designs.
“We took our time and did our due diligence,” Gleisner said.
Schnettler said 8,000 square feet was taken off the building.
They kept 10,000 square feet.
Redeveloping the interior was a slow process, he said.
Originally, there was going to be an office for the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce in the front storefront.
Noting the number of people boating on the river last summer, the LLC decided to make that space available for a business.
Sheer Blue Artistry and Wellness is opening there on Sunday, May 2.
Yoga, fitness and Reiki classes are being offered there at various times throughout the week.
People may visit www.sheerblueaw.com for details.
Anchor Point Rentals and Retail is in the other storefront.
It opens on Saturday, May 1.
Gleisner and her husband Todd own Anchor Point Marina four miles down the river.
“We had been looking for a second location within a 45-mile radius,” she said. “We got involved in this project from the beginning. The space became available.”
Their space in the Fremont River Deck includes pontoon, paddleboard and kayak rentals.
They are also catering to the camping and boating crowd with apparel and accessories for the outdoors.
The business includes items from local vendors, such as goat milk soap, candles, jewelry, hand-thrown pottery, apoxy tumblers, towels and pillows.
“We’re excited. It’s been a labor of love for sure,” Gleisner said.
She said there has been collaboration throughout the project.
Most members of the LLC own other businesses in the area as well.
The Bridge Bar is managing the bar in the event space, and Hotel Fremont is managing the kitchen.
Anchor Point is managing anything having to do with boat rentals and recreation.
Schnettler has a background in manufacturing and is handling the construction and building side.
He built the bar in the event space.
The public restrooms are available only when the building is open.
Working on the exterior and deck area will be next.
Schnettler said more docks will be added and when completed, the river walk will go from the Bridge Bar to Hotel Fremont.
Gleisner said revitilization is underway in the village.
There is an influx of energy with new business owners and more involvement from the Chamber, she said.
“We plan on having community events here,” Gleisner said.
Purse Bingo on Saturday, May 8 is raising funds for community projects and events.
They see the Fremont River Deck as a unique facility.
It is basically owned by the community.
“The intent of all of this was to help all the other businesses,” Gleisner said.
They want to give people reasons to stay in Fremont.
“This wasn’t a dream,” Schnettler said. “It was a vision of what the downtown can be. In our eyes, it’s just the beginning.”