Developer says more debate was needed before council started sales talks with Ansay
Port Washington developer Gertjan van den Broek on Tuesday chided the Common Council for its recent decision to negotiate exclusively with Ansay Development for the purchase of a 44-acre parcel of city-owned land.
“The question I kept asking myself is how did I miss the start of this,” he told aldermen, saying he was caught off guard by the council’s actions.
In the past, he said, officials have been open about the potential sale of property, publicly discussing efforts to redevelop land whether it is publicly or privately owned, and seeking input on the best uses.
“I’m a firm believer in the marketplace of ideas,” he said. “I’ve always thought the city was good at seeking ideas.”
Many of these discussions start at the Community Development Authority, he said, noting that in October the group talked about such things as the NorthPort Shopping Center, Jadair property, a former trailer park on South Spring Street and the marina district concept.
The controversial decision to seek proposals for a city-owned marina parking lot was discussed by the CDA for months, he noted.
“I think it’s a very good precedent for our city to open opportunities,” he said. “Let the best ideas rise to the top.”
That didn’t happen in this case, van den Broek said.
Instead, the city held a special meeting to consider a proposal by Ansay Development to create a corporate headquarters, training center and boutique hotel on 44 acres of undeveloped, city-owned land just south of the We Energies power plant and agreed to negotiate exclusively with the firm for 60 days.
Van den Broek noted that the original plat of Port Washington showed a city of 48.6 acres — nearly the same size as the parcel Ansay wants to buy.
“It’s a really important site,” he said, adding the city needs to take care to consider all the potential uses in order to find the right one for the community.