Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 21:35
Common Council again foregoes open discussion of dueling proposals for redevelopment of lakefront property
The Port Washington Common Council met in closed session for the second time this month Tuesday to discuss dueling development proposals for the car-boat trailer parking lot at the east end of Washington Street.
Aldermen did not take any action following the session, during which they were expected to review financial information submitted by the two developers vying to buy the parking lot, Ansay Development and Stephen Perry Smith.
The developers presented their plans to the Common Council on June 7, but aldermen have not had a public discussion about the plans since then.
City Administrator Mark Grams said officials wanted to examine the developers’ financial information, including how the projects would be financed, what the city would be expected to contribute and how the project would work within the downtown tax incremental financing district.
That financial information could “help turn the tide” in terms of deciding which developer the city will deal with, he said.
That information will also be used by aldermen to develop a negotiating strategy, Grams said.
None of the closed-session discussion has revolved around the aesthetics of the projects, he added.
Mayor Tom Mlada said Wednesday that during the closed session aldermen asked for more financial information in preparation for a public discussion of the two plans and the issues surrounding each that could occur at the council’s July 12 meeting.
Smith has proposed the construction of an 11-unit condominium townhouse development on the parking lot site, while Ansay Development wants to construct a 44-unit apartment building on the western portion of the parking lot and the former Victor’s restaurant property directly to the west of the lot.
Ansay Development has said it would seek $1.5 million in incentives from the city for its project, which is to be valued at more than $6 million, while Smith said he would not seek any incentives for his development, which would be valued at $4.4 million.
However, Smith said he would ask the city to remediate the property and make some infrastructure changes through its tax incremental financing district — changes that would be reflected in the price of the parking lot.
If the changes include moving a sewer main that runs through the property, Grams said, the city will also have to alter its path through private property north of the parking lot — a cost officials want to take a closer look at.
Most aldermen contacted by Ozaukee Press last week said they want to review the finances before anything else.
“I have to weigh everything —what is it going to cost the city? What is it going to bring to the city? How long will it take to pay off the TIF? There’s a lot more to it than just the aesthetics,” Ald. Bill Driscoll said.
Ald. Doug Biggs said, “Aesthetics have to play a part in this. They mean a lot. But I have to look first and foremost at the financial implications.”
Ald. Mike Ehrlich also noted that Ansay has said it is working with neighboring property owners on development plans, and that could come into play as aldermen consider the two plans and how they fit into the area.