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Blues Factory deadline may spur deal or another delay PDF Print E-mail
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Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 21:00

Port council considers proposed lakefront project on day sale was to be final

Port Washington aldermen were expected to learn the status of the sale of the north slip marina parking lot for the controversial Blues Factory entertainment complex.

The deadline for the purchase was Wednesday, April 5, according to a developer’s agreement inked by the Common Council in November.

Whether or not the deal was not completed Wednesday, the agenda for the Common Council meeting would allow aldermen to take action regarding the pending sale and the developer’s agreement.

What that action would be is not known, but it could be setting a new deadline for the deal to be completed or potentially declining to extend the deadline, scuttling the deal.

While aldermen have been staunch in their support for the proposed project, the sale of the lakefront parking lot has been controversial, stoking a debate on development that resulted in the ouster of two incumbents from their seats in the spring election.

Also controversial has been the city’s commitment to provide $1 million in incentives from the downtown tax incremental financing district for the project.

The developer’s agreement calls for the city to sell the north slip parking lot to the Blues Factory Inc. for $250,000 by April 5 — a payment that officials said could be covered by the city’s development incentive.

The Blues Factory was initially proposed by Christopher Long of Madison, who last year stepped away from the project and turned over the reins to Port developer Gertjan van den Broek. It was the only development proposed after the Common Council decided to consider the sale of the parking lot.  

The Blues Factory would include a restaurant, banquet facility and performance space dedicated to telling the history of Paramount Records — an offshoot of the Wisconsin Chair Co., which operated on Port’s lakefront for decades. 

The building itself is designed to be reminiscent of the Chair Co. factory, sited on the parking lot where a portion of the company’s factory once stood. 

But to complete the sale,  the city was to locate the tiebacks and deadmen — infrastructure  for the north slip — something officials originally said would be done last year. However, that work was still ongoing in late February.

Before the sale was to be completed, the development agreement calls for the developer to have a letter of intent or a lease with a restaurateur before the city sells its property. The city has the right to approve of the restaurant.

The development agreement also specified that unless an extension is approved by the city, construction of the Blues Factory was to begin by July 1, 2017.

If that does not happen, the agreement states, the city may buy the parking lot back for $250,000.

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