Aviation Plaza redevelopment nearing completion

Joseph Schulz, Managing Editor

Tyler Reilly
Joseph Schulz / Advance-Titan — Extreme Customs owner Tyler Reilly is opening a second location in Oshkosh next week, as part of a larger effort to redevelop Aviation Plaza.

When Tyler Reilly started Extreme Customs, a technology and automotive company that sells custom rims and tires, in his parents’ garage, he never expected the business would expand to include locations in Wautoma, Appleton and Oshkosh.

Next week, he plans to open his second location in Oshkosh, which is part of a larger effort to transform Aviation Plaza from a largely empty lot across from Highway 44 and the Wittman Regional Airport into a vibrant gateway to the community. 

Aviation Plaza had been largely abandoned since Walmart left the property in 2003 and J.C. Penney closed in 2015, with Rogan’s Shoes remaining open.

Extreme Customs will be joining Rogan’s Shoes and, next month, the Mineshaft Restaurant in occupying the redeveloped Aviation Plaza.

In 2019, the Oshkosh Common Council approved the creation of a Tax Increment Financing district to cover $1.7 million of the $22.9 million redevelopment, according to the Project Plan.

In addition to TIF and developer funding, the project has also been funded through a $500,000 Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Idle Sites Grant. 

When finished, the project will create more than 100 new jobs in the Oshkosh area, according to the developers’ TIF application.

Rob Kleman, senior vice president of economic development for the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, believes the project is the result of cooperation between multiple entities behind the scenes. 

“Between the city’s TIF, the Idle Sites Grant and financing between Extreme Customs, Rogans and Mineshaft, all parties were able to work together to support this project,” he said.

Mineshaft Restaurant
Joseph Schulz / Advance-Titan — A Mineshaft Restaurant is set to open this summer in Aviation Plaza, along with Rogans Shoes and Extreme Customs. The project plan says the redevelopment will add over 100 jobs.

Mineshaft Owner Tom Masters first approached the chamber in 2012 to identify sites in Oshkosh for a potential restaurant. Ultimately, Masters purchased the old Walmart site in Aviation Plaza.

“That was the defining moment, when they solidified it by purchasing that site in 2013,” Kleman said. “They’ve been working since then to put this together.”

In late 2018, Extreme Customs was looking to open another location. At the time, Reilly was getting offers from other cities. 

But, he knew that he wanted to stay in Oshkosh because since opening a location here, his business had seen “continuous growth.”

“The business really grew in Oshkosh, between the local retail and online sales,” Reilly said. “A huge part of our success is from moving from Wautoma to Oshkosh.”

So, Extreme Customs partnered with the Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corp. to look for potential sites for its second location in Oshkosh. 

“They came back to us, and they had settled on the J.C. Penney property,” said Audra Hoy, former GO-EDC director of business and economic development, who worked closely with Extreme Customs throughout the redevelopment.

After choosing the site, Extreme Customs worked closely with the Mineshaft, Rogans, GO-EDC, the Chamber, the city and various other groups to overcome infrastructure hurdles.

When Aviation Plaza was developed in the 1980s, it had one owner. When the groups came to the table to revitalize the property, it was split into three parcels, owned by three groups.

Having three property owners made redevelopment difficult because regulations have changed since the site was built.

Extreme Customs
Joseph Schulz / Advance-Titan — In late 2018, Extreme Customs was looking to open another location. At the time, Tyler Reilly was getting offers from other cities. But, he wanted to stay in Oshkosh because his business has seen “continuous growth” since opening here.

For example, one water line served the entire property, but modern regulations require each property to have their own water service. 

“You had infrastructure from the mid-’80s, so everything had to be brought up to code,” Hoy said.

But after months of work, the site is nearing completion. Kleman said the project has the potential to benefit the community through job creation. 

He added that Extreme Customs aims to bring roughly 40 jobs to Aviation Plaza right off the bat, with potential to continue growing, while the Mineshaft will add roughly 130 when it opens in June.

“We’re looking forward to opening the Mineshaft, and we’re glad that we’re able to retain one of our growing businesses in Extreme Customs,” Kleman said. “It’s a very positive development for the Oshkosh community and our region.”