Germantown — It won't be long before the former community staple Quilted Bear reopens as Florian Park Conference & Event Center.
The harsh winter and rainy spring delayed the overhaul of the building, which was originally slated to open in April. Instead, Project Design Management Director of Operations Ryan Rahl said he hopes to open the doors in early July.
"There is definitely a lot of excitement to get inside and see the building and the changes we've made," Rahl said. "Construction has been ongoing since November, so it's pretty neat to watch the community see everything come together."
Of the more than 200 phone calls inquiring about when the facility will be open for business, 30 potential clients have said they are interested in touring the two banquet halls. The wide range of potential clientele has come as a bit of a surprise to Rahl, who said he was expecting weddings to be the primary source of interest.
"It's great to see some of the local groups that always used to utilize the Quilted Bear and have since taken their meetings and events elsewhere bring those events back to the village," he said. The wedding industry has also shown enthusiasm for the opening of the venue, Rahl said, including one bride whose parents were married at the Quilted Bear 40 years ago.
"This area really needed a premier venue that could offer the capacity and space the Quilted Bear formerly offered," he said. "It's amazing to think of being able to facilitate one of the biggest days of people's lives as it pertains to weddings at our facility."
Since the closing of the Quilted Bear a year and a half ago, PDM purchased the property for $600,000 and has taken to demolition and reconstruction that includes a number of upgrades both inside and outside the building. Bridal and groomsmen changing rooms, a covered carport at the entry and an extension of the outdoor deck are among some of the changes to the 1982 building, which neighbors Country Inn & Suites, also owned by PDM.
A private road has been added to connect the two properties, which Rahl said he thinks will be an added perk for users of Florian Park.
"It's just such a beautiful area," said Rahl of the 18-acre property. "It makes you feel kind of like you're out in the middle of nature, but really you're right off the (highway)."
One of the last pieces of the puzzle is the landscaping plan, which the Plan Commission critiqued on June 9. After about an hour of discussion about the importance of using a variety of plants and wildlife to add to the beauty of the site, the commission encouraged Rahl to work with Village Planner Jeff Retzlaff on the details.
"I think they're moving in the right direction," said Village President Dean Wolter, adding that he hopes the village doesn't seem too over-intrusive about the landscaping. "Everything you see is more the vision now than it was before, it's more than the wood and cranes it's been for some time."
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