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Building planned for lakefront lauded as ‘spectacular’ PDF Print E-mail
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Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 20:06

Ansay proposal for restaurant, condos, roof-top bar on NewPort Shores site praised by Port design board

    Ansay Development on Tuesday unveiled plans for a striking, modern building  with a mix of uses — 22 condominiums, office space, a store, restaurant and rooftop pub — to replace the NewPort Shores restaurant on the Port Washington waterfront, a proposal that met with rave reviews from the Design Review Board Tuesday.
    “I think it’s a spectacular building,” board member Jorgen Hansen, an architect, said. “It’s an outstanding design, unbelievably beautiful. It’s totally different from anything else in Port Washington.”
    “It’s a compelling design,” board member Jeremy Hartline, an architect, added.
  ANSAY LG  The building’s modern design, which features swaths of windows and horizontal lines, “is far enough from historic downtown Port Washington that it’s not going to impact that,” Hansen said. “It has far more to do with the lake and marina than the downtown.
    “If there’s a place to do modern design in Port Washington, this is the place.”
    The plan, submitted by Ansay Development in partnership with NewPort Shores owner John Weinrich, is the largest development proposal for the marina district to be considered by the city.
     The L-shaped building would encompass not only the current restaurant, but also two structures to the west owned by Weinrich and a portion of the city-owned property south of NewPort Shores.
    The concept plan will be reviewed by the Plan Commission when it meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15.
    The commission is also expected to consider a special exception for the building because it exceeds the base 35-foot height limit. At its tallest point, the building is about 51 feet, Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, said.
    The commission is also expected to consider declaring the city-owned land to the south surplus, which would allow the Common Council to consider selling it to Ansay for the development.
    But Craig Heatwole, 525 N. Holden St., told the Design Review Board Tuesday that the property was donated by the Gilson family in 1893 for parkland.
    “It’s not free land. It’s not development land. It’s parkland,” Heatwole said. “I’m very interested in preserving this parkland.”
    The city is researching the deed to ensure it can sell the parcel, Tetzlaff said, but he noted that it was sold by John and Elizabeth Gilson to the city for $75, not donated.        The Kiwanis shelter, which is on the property but is in poor condition, would be razed and replaced with a public pavilion and adjoining terrace under the Ansay plan — something the city suggested the firm consider, Tom Meaux, president and chief operating officer of Ansay Holdings, said.
    The pavilion has not yet been designed, and while plans call for it to be built near the entrance to the breakwater, that location is not set in stone, officials said.
    The pavilion is important, Hansen said, adding, “Right now, there is no place for people to linger.”
    The city’s pumphouse adjacent to the Kiwanis pavilion would be retained and restored, with the main entrance to Ansay’s building circling the structure.
    The city’s fish cleaning station would be moved, something the marina staff requested, Tetzlaff said, adding a new location for the facility has not been selected.
    Ian McCain, Ansay’s design/construction manager, said the purpose of the new building and related improvements, such as the pavilion, terrace and a link between the harborwalk and the lakefront boardwalk, is to draw residents and tourists to the waterfront.
    “Our goal is to do a project and get people to use the lake,” McCain said, adding the terrace and pavilion will have power and water to accommodate events and Ansay is talking to nonprofit groups to see what they might want to see there.
    “We believe this site is unique. It is absolutely part of Port Washington, but it is also part of the lake and marina. We believe this to be the architecture of the lake and marina itself. We’re celebrating Port’s crown jewel.
    “If this project were a couple of blocks to the west, this isn’t the design we would pick.”
    The building’s design, with its extensive use of glass, sweeping eaves with wood-faced soffits and horizontal lines,  draws inspiration from the architecture of lakefront buildings up and down the Wisconsin coast and the boats in the marina, Matt Rinka, principal with Rinka/Chung Architecture, said.
    “This is a site unlike any other,” Rinka said, noting it relates more to the lakefront and marina than downtown. “Creating a building that purposely stands out and ties to the water more than a red brick building is really key.
    “This is an opportunity, from our standpoint, the city can’t miss on. Enhancing the usability and aesthetics of the site is key to the community enjoying it for years to come.”
    The design will also help connect waterfront elements, such as the harborwalk, boardwalk, north beach and even the bike trail, he said.
    The building, which varies in height, is built into the slope. At Lake Street, it will appear to be three stories, but another floor will be built to the east. At the lakefront, where the lower level will be largely visible, five stories will be seen.
    Because the building is largely glass, it will appear lighter in scale than it would otherwise, Rinka said.
    “Anything but a lot of glass is wrong for that site,” McCain said.
    Unlike the current restaurant, the new building is not located parallel to Jackson Street but is instead angled, giving motorists and pedestrians along Jackson Street a clear view to the public pavilion and  lake.
    The building will be largely self-contained, McCain said, noting there will be a total of 122 parking spaces on site.
    The bottom floor and a portion of the first floor would be parking. A 1,700-square-foot retail space would be located along Lake Street, while a 5,700-square-foot restaurant with an outdoor terrace would be located on the east end of the first floor.
    McCain said that Ansay has not identified a tenant for the retail space, but would like to see some sort of convenience store that would highlight local products.
    The restaurant, which wraps around the east and south sides of the building, would have a private dining room on the north end.
    McCain said Weinrich will not run the restaurant, although it will retain a number of the restaurant’s staff members and menu items. A tenant has already been selected to operate the restaurant, he said, although he declined to name the restaurateur.
    Weinrich said the goal is to continue to draw the local residents who have supported the restaurant through the years as well as tourists.
    Eleven condominiums, each with a balcony and sweeping views, would be on each of the next two floors, while the top floor would contain 4,500 square feet of office space, a rooftop pub, public event space, outdoor amenity and a green roof.
    The event space could be rented out for parties or meetings, McCain said, adding that it is much smaller than the banquet facility planned for the Blues Factory at the north slip.
    Ansay has a tenant for the office space, McCain said, adding that Weinrich will have a role in running the rooftop pub.
    When completed, the building is expected to add $10 million to the city’s tax rolls, according to Ansay. It would bring an additional $186,000 in taxes to the county and $62,000 to the city annually.
    The building is in the city’s tax incremental financing district, but McCain said the firm has not determined whether it will seek any development incentives from the city.
    That will depend, in part, on what public amenities are incorporated into the plan, he said.
    McCain said Ansay would like to begin construction in fall, adding the building is expected to take a year or more to construct.

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