Requests for proposals for Washington St. parcel resume after completion of environmental study
The effort to sell a city-owned lakefront parking lot in downtown Port Washington will begin in earnest again next month.
Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, told the Community Development Authority last week that a request for proposals for the property off Washington Street is being finalized now that a second-phase environmental study is complete.
Konicek Environmental, the firm that conducted the study, found “a little of this, a little bit of that,” Tetzlaff said. “It’s not alarming.”
The firm recommended that any soil that is disturbed by construction — perhaps of a lower level — be cleaned, he said.
But, Tetzlaff said, company officials don’t recommend that the city clean up the site.
“Why would the city want to do something? If we don’t get a buyer, it’ll stay a parking lot,” he said.
The amount of cleanup recommended will depend on how much excavation a buyer plans to do, Tetzlaff added.
Because of that, Konicek recommended that the city tell potential developers of its findings and let them decide what to do, he said.
“It’s not as big a deal (to clean a site) as it used to be,” Tetzlaff said. “It will likely be reflected in the price.”
A downtown redevelopment plan created last year earmarked the parking lot at the north end of the north slip for a destination development to draw people to the lakefront.
But a number of residents opposed the city’s plan to sell the lot, saying it is invaluable lakefront property that should be kept for the public.
Officials note that the city owns miles of lakefront land. This site, they said, offers the community the opportunity to make property available for a project that could spur redevelopment throughout the downtown.
The plan to sell the lot seemed to be on the fast track until officials decided to conduct environmental studies on the property, which was home to industrial buildings — most notably the Wisconsin Chair Co. — for decades before it became a parking lot.
While officials originally hoped to receive proposals from developers by June 5, Tetzlaff told the CDA Monday that the new timetable calls for the Common Council to approve the request for proposals on June 2.
The request would then be sent out by June 5, with a presubmission meeting with developers held on June 29, Tetzlaff said. Proposals would be due Aug. 5.
The CDA would vet the proposals and make a recommendation by Aug. 17, with the Plan Commission reviewing any preliminary plans and designs for the development on Aug. 20.
Negotiations with the developer would be held after that, with the preliminary date for Common Council action on the sale coming on Sept. 1, Tetzlaff said.
John Sigwart, 230 Theis St., asked the CDA if it would be willing to move the timetable up if only one developer attended the presubmission meeting, which officials have said would be mandatory.
Developers Chris Long of Madison and Gertjan van den Broek of Port Washington have already approached the city about the land, saying they want to create a Paramount Blues-themed museum, restaurant, performance space and banquet hall on the property.
Their proposal was enthusiastically greeted by aldermen, and Sigwart noted that the duo wants to complete their development in 2017 to celebrate the centennial of the founding of Paramount Records.
Accelerating the timetable could help them meet that goal, Sigwart said.
This would be possible, the CDA members agreed, but they said they expect more than one developer to seek to buy the land.
“I think it’s in the city’s best interests that there be more than one,” member Jason Wittek said.