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City poised for Blues Factory land offer PDF Print E-mail
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Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 18:03

Officials expect to receive formal proposal from developer of controversial lakefront project for May 3 council meeting

Port Washington City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday that the Common Council could receive a formal offer to purchase a lakefront parking lot for the proposed Blues Factory by its May 3 meeting.

Aldermen have been holding regular closed sessions to discuss negotiations for the Blues Factory with Madison-based developer Christopher Long, including a session held Wednesday, April 6.

“We’re still working on it,” Grams said of the session. “We’re getting closer. It’s pretty much in their court right now.”

Grams said he does not expect the Common Council to hold a closed session on the Blues Factory negotiations during its April 19 meeting.

“If anything, it’ll be at the first meeting in May,” he said. “I think that’s what they’re shooting for.”

Grams said the Council could receive an offer for the property for consideration at the May 3 meeting, and action could be taken on the offer that night.

The Common Council has not begun work on a development agreement for the Blues Factory, he said.

The Blues Factory is a Paramount blues-themed entertainment complex that would include a restaurant, banquet hall, performance space and museum marking the history of the record label in Port Washington.

Paramount Records, which is known for its blues recordings, was created by the Wisconsin Chair Co. to help sell its phonographs. When Long proposed the Blues Factory last year, he said he hoped to break ground on the development this April in order to ensure the development would be open in 2017 for the centennial of the Wisconsin Chair Co.

However, the potential sale of the north slip parking lot has proven to be controversial, with city officials touting the economic benefits of the Blues Factory and its potential as a catalyst for year-round development in downtown while some residents have questioned the wisdom of selling publicly owned lakefront land.

There are a number of issues facing the city and Long as they negotiate the potential sale of the parking lot.

Among those are likely the cost of the land, as well as $1 million in tax incremental financing incentives Long has said he will seek from the city.

The city has conducted environmental tests on the land that have shown some minimal contamination, and the question of who will remediate the property may also be an issue in negotiations.

City officials are likely also looking for ways to ensure the development will pay off for the TIF district, especially if incentives are provided for the development.

Long said last year that in addition to the incentives, the project would be funded through private equity — as much as $500,000 from accredited investors and $1 million in crowdfunding — as well as a construction loan.

 
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