Lake Geneva city staff joined representatives of the business community June 5 in another public discussion about the future of the Riviera.
Among the ideas presented was expanding the space available for merchants on the lower level of the city-owned tourism center, and converting part of the lower level into a new restaurant.
The gathering, which attracted about 20 people, mostly city employees, was the latest in a series of discussions as the city prepares to undertake a restoration of the Riviera that could change how the landmark building is used.
The city has identified roof replacement as the first priority for the project, but the building also could need work on windows, ceilings, heating/air-conditioning, bathrooms and more.
With early estimates of $5 million for the project’s costs, officials have not identified a way of paying for the project.
Some people at the June 5 meeting said they would like the building to include better signage to help visitors locate the shops and other amenities at the Riviera.
“It would help the shops,” Alderman Tim Dunn said. “Some people might walk by and not go in, but if they saw a sign maybe they would.”
City street superintendent Neil Waswo said he would like to see more space available for the lower-level shops.
“People don’t know if they’re walking into a closet or walking into a shop,” Waswo said. “Give these shop owners an opportunity to have a nice business, not just something that’s crammed into a corner.”
Alderwoman Selena Proksa suggested better kitchen facilities to encourage more community events.
“I’ve heard that’s one of the reasons why we don’t get more proms and things like that, because we don’t have a very good kitchen,” Proksa said.
Representatives from city consultant MSI General Corp. are scheduled June 19 to present a rendering of the Riviera project to the city council’s piers, harbors and lakefront committee.
Some city officials at the June 5 session had their own ideas for future uses of the Riviera.
Waswo said the building could be used as a community center or a senior center during the weekdays.
“They like the building, and they want to be a part of the building and use the building other than the weddings they get invited to,” Waswo said.
Stephanie Copsey, special events coordinator for the city tourism commission, said she would like to see the Riviera used for dances and band concerts.
“It was built as a community place for dancers and concerts,” Copsey said.
Tammie Carstensen, chairwoman of the tourism commission, said the building could host an indoor farmers market during the winter. Carstensen said she also would like one side of the lower level include the shops and another side to feature a restaurant.
Dunn proposed expanding the upper-level patio area to allow for a bar that would serve drinks and snacks.
“A person can sit at a table and look out at the lake,” Dunn said. “That would be awesome.”