Ansay to seek TIF funding for Newport Shores

Developer interested in pay-as-you-go financing from city for lakefront project expected to start in spring

THE SINGLE-STORY Newport Shores restaurant would be replaced by the modern structure seen in this rendering by Rinka/Chung architects of the east side of the building.
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Ansay Development will be looking for funding from Port Washington’s downtown tax incremental financing district for its Newport Shores development, the company announced last week.

Ian McCain, Ansay’s design/construction manager, told the Common Council that the firm will seek a pay-as-you-go TIF to help fund the development, which he said will take a parcel currently valued at $646,700 and turn it into one valued at $20 million.

How much TIF financing the firm will seek hasn’t been determined, McCain said, in part because the final location for the fish cleaning station and Kiwanis shelter hasn’t been determined.

“Until some of these things are determined, I won’t know my total cost and ultimately the need,” he said.

Although the development is in the city’s TIF district, the firm decided to use a pay-as-you-go TIF instead, McCain said.

“We think it’s more palatable to the city because there’s really no risk to the city,” he said. 

In a pay-as-you-go TIF, the developer pays the cost of improvements up front, with a city refunding a designated portion of that money through the increased taxes paid on the building. In a traditional TIF, the city pays for the improvements with that money refunded through the increased taxes.

City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday he wasn’t surprised by the firm’s decision to seek TIF funds, noting Ansay representatives have been talking about the option during the last several weeks.

He has spoken to the city’s TIF consultant and been told it’s OK to incorporate a pay-as-you-go TIF in the existing district, Grams added.

Ansay Development unveiled plans this spring for a modern building  with a mix of uses — condominiums, office space, a store, restaurant and rooftop pub — to replace the current Newport Shores restaurant on the Port Washington waterfront.

The L-shaped building, which features a bold, glassy design, would encompass not only the eatery, but also two structures to the west owned by Newport Shores proprietor John Weinrich and a portion of the city-owned property south of the restaurant.

The city has given conceptual approval for the development and granted a height exception needed for the plan.

To obtain the land it needs for the project, Ansay is proposing a land swap — the city-owned parcels south of the restaurant where the fish cleaning station and Kiwanis shelter are located in exchange for Newport Shores property along the lakeshore.

“This would give the city full ownership along the lakefront,” McCain told the Common Council.

That’s important, Mayor Marty Becker said.

“The riparian rights, to me, are key,” he said, noting the city would have full control of the lakefront from north beach to south beach. “This swap is important, I think, to the city.”

Ald. Mike Ehrlich concurred, calling the riparian rights a “key” for the city.

Aldermen agreed to have the city staff  put together a memorandum of understanding regarding the land swap, a document that could be reviewed by the Common Council at its Tuesday, Dec. 4, meeting.

Aldermen spent much of the discussion talking about the future locations of the fish cleaning station and shelter. 

The Harbor Commission has made a “fairly strong” recommendation that the fish cleaning station be moved to an island in the marina parking lot just north of the car-trailer parking area, City Administrator Mark Grams said, because it would help relieve traffic issues in the area.

The Parks and Recreation Board has recommended moving the shelter to South Beach, he added.

City Attorney Eric Eberhardt noted that We Energies, not the city, owns the south beach so the utility would also need to approve the relocation of the shelter.

We Energies has indicated preliminary support for the plan, Grams said.

But Ald. John Sigwart suggested Veterans Park might be a better location, and asked that the parks board reconsider the issue.

McCain told aldermen Ansay is amenable to whatever location the city decides on, adding that the firm wants assurances that the city is agreeable to the land swap so it can proceed. 

“Our goal is to leave them in better condition than they are today,” he said.

Ansay has conducted its due diligence on the site, he added, and expects to begin construction in late spring with completion in spring 2020.

McCain noted that the number of condominiums has increased from 22 to as many as 30 units, increasing the value of the project. The firm would like to take ownership of the east end of Jackson Street, permitting the public to use the road via an easement, he said, and to name a park area east of the development for the Gilson family, who donated some of the adjoining land to the city for a park years ago.

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