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Three area developers vie for Port bluff land PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 20:29

Subdivision plans include sustainable farm, ‘pocket neighborhoods,’ event venue

Three development groups with ties to Ozaukee County want to create subdivisions on 44 acres of undeveloped bluff land south of the We Energies power plant in the City of Port Washington.

All three proposals received by the city before Friday’s deadline are primarily residential but they incorporate unique features — a farm in one case — and include public spaces.

  Ansay Development, which earlier had proposed developing a corporate headquarters on the property, did not submit a proposal, City Planner Randy Tetzlaff said.

The proposals include:

n “Seven Hills Farm,” proposed by Shaffer Development and Mayer Helminiak Architects, described as a green development that would include a “sustainable farm” providing for a farm-to-table community.

The houses are described as diverse, intended to appeal to all generations and lifestyles, and would include duplex condominiums, townhouses and multi-family housing. A total of 346 units, both for purchase and rent, would be included.

Walking paths and a bike trail would connect the development to downtown and the proposed Cedar Vineyards subdivision to the south. Other proposed amenities are  a community clubhouse and tram to the beach.

Shaffer Development is a Mequon-based firm owned by Cindy Shaffer. The firm is currently developing the former lumberyard site in the Village of Grafton and recently completed work on the Mequon Town Center.

n “Watercolor,” proposed by Stephen Perry Smith Architects, Sawall Development, Renew Port Holdings and SEH Inc., is described as a “master planned, mixed-use development comprised of four unique but integrated neighborhoods.”

The “pocket neighborhoods” would consist of a cluster of housing types surrounding a central common green space that overlooks Lake Michigan.

The housing will transition from north to south, from apartments to townhouses to single-family units. There will be a total of 249 units designed in the Arts and Crafts architectural style.

Pedestrian trails will be stressed, as will site amenities that include extensive native landscaping.

Stephen Perry Smith has worked on the Port Harbour Lights project in downtown Port. He also recently received the nod from city officials to develop 11 townhouses on a city parking lot in the marina district.

Renew Port Holdings is helmed by Port developer Gertjan van den Broek, who owns four downtown properties and developed Port Harbour Lights. He is also working to develop The Blues Factory, a Paramount blues-themed entertainment complex, on the city’s north marina parking lot.

Van den Broek said he is interested in the land because of its potential impact on downtown.

“That’s what I’m passionate about and where I can make a difference,” he said. “Whatever happens on that parcel will have a significant impact on downtown.”

Van den Broek said he’s excited about the diversity of housing in the proposed development, the numerous open, natural spaces and shared gardens and the connections between the development, downtown and the proposed Cedar Vineyard subdivision. 

n “Prairie’s Edge,” proposed by Black Cap Halcyon, Kubala Washatko Architects and Altius Building Co., is a mix of two and three-story structures, two-story townhouses and 18 cottages, a total of 177 units.  The development would maximize access to the waterfront and bluffs while ensuring connectivity to downtown.

The development would also include four commercial buildings totalling more than 39,000 square feet.

In addition, there would be almost 10,000 square feet of public and private event space.

Prairie’s Edge is the only one of the proposals that also seeks to include an adjoining 11-acre parcel offered for purchase by We Energies. That area, called Beacon Commons, would include outdoor event space and a hillside amphitheater.  

Black Cap Halcyon was founded by Anthony Polston of Cedarburg, who last year proposed a mixed-use development on 46 acres south of Cornerstone Church off Port Washington Road in Grafton. That development would have included 28 two-story townhouses and four three-story apartment buildings with 44 units each. 

The village’s Plan Commission did not formally consider the proposal because it called for multifamily development not allowed in the village’s 2009 comprehensive plan.

Kubala Washatko Architects, a well-known Cedarburg firm, designed the proposed Blues Factory.

The city, which released the descriptions of the developments, did not note how much developers have offered to pay for the land or what the final value of each project would be.

The city’s request for proposals specified that a monetary offer should be included, noting the land is appraised at $65,000 an acre. The proposals were also to include a listing of the costs associated with the development and the estimated final value of the project.

The preferred development should provide public access to the bluff and scenic lake vistas and help connect the downtown to the Cedar Vineyard development, the request states.

The city acquired the undeveloped bluff land from We Energies more than a decade ago as part of a deal in which the community agreed to support the utility’s conversion of its coal-fired plant to a natural gas-fueled facility.

Eyed through the years as a prime residential site, officials held onto the property as the real estate market ebbed and surged but decided last year to look into the potential of selling it.

An informal committee that includes a member of the city’s Plan Commission, Design Review Board and Community Redevelopment Authority is expected to review the three proposals in the coming week.

The development groups will then make presentations to the Common Council at its Tuesday, Feb. 7, meeting.

A decision on which development to go with could be made as soon as the council’s Feb. 21 meeting, officials have said.

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