City asked to renegotiate terms of bluff land deal

Prairie’s Edge developer proposes pay-as-you-go arrangement instead of lump sum installments

A RENDERING SHOWS the east side of The Courtyard at Port Washington, a proposed 36-unit assisted living and memory care facility to be built as part of the Prairie’s Edge subdivision on Port Washington’s south bluff.
Ozaukee Press staff

Black Cap Halcyon, the developer of the proposed Prairie’s Edge subdivision, is seeking to renegotiate the terms of its agreements with the City of Port Washington to buy and develop the south bluff property.

City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday that Black Cap Halcyon is trying to amend its land purchase agreement and payment schedule. Instead of three lump sum payments, he said, the firm wants to pay as it sells the land.

Although the city would end up with the same amount of money in the end, Grams said, it’s not an approach officials favor.

“You don’t know when you’ll get your money,” he said. 

Aldermen met in closed session March 17 to not only review the proposal by the firm but also develop counter-proposals or negotiating strategies.

They took no action following the closed session.

Grams said that the city will meet with Tony Polston, principal of Black Cap Halcyon, to discuss the matter further on Friday.

Black Cap Halcyon bought the land for Prairie’s Edge from the city, and the purchase agreement calls for the company to make a $1 million payment when building permits are issued for the first phase of the project and a $516,000 payment when permits for the second and third phases are issued.

In addition, the firm paid $22,600 in earnest money, $225,700 when the sale closed and it is making $8,400 a month in mortgage payments each month.

When the purchase agreement was approved by the city, Black Cap Halcyon was expected to begin the first phase of the subdivision in March 2018, the second phase in July 2019 and the third phase in July 2020. Construction was expected to be completed by 2023.

While plans for the project have been approved by the city, construction has not yet started.

Last year, the firm unsuccessfully asked the city to create a tax incremental financing district and provide $5.25 million in TIF funding for the project, with Polston saying that the economics had changed since he proposed the project and he needed city help to pay for infrastructure. 

Prairie’s Edge promises to be the city’s largest subdivision, adding almost $60 million to the city’s tax base with 34 single-family houses, 16 pocket neighborhood single-family homes, 20 townhouses and 156 apartments, as well as 40,000 square feet of commercial space.

The Plan Commission has recommended that the city approve a plan by Black Cap Halcyon that calls for a 36-unit, 26,000-square-foot assisted living and memory care facility be built on the north end of the subdivision, replacing a 10,000-square-foot commercial building and eight townhouse condominiums previously approved.

The senior living facility would be built on three of the 35 acres in the subdivision.

Commission members last week recommended that the city approve a rezoning and conditional use permit needed for the facility, which would be operated by Matthews Senior Living.

Commission members were largely in support of the use, with the bulk of the discussion concerning the fact the building will be one story.

“I think assisted living is needed,” Mayor Marty Becker said. “I’d really like it to be a couple stories.”

Polston’s attorney Lisa Wood told the commission that Matthews Senior Living will not build a multi-story building because the regulations for that type of facility are more complex and costly.

“The developer (Matthews) is not willing to build a two-story building,” she said. 

Polston noted Prairie’s Edge is designed to have the more dense, taller buildings in its center with those on the north and south ends — including the senior living facility — less dense and shorter.

Grams suggested the commission wait to approve the measures until Polston submitted a plan for the entire north end of the subdivision.

“What the council’s going to be looking for ... is to see how the residential lots (around the facility) are planned out,” he said.

Polston said he will plan the entire north end of the subdivision around the senior living center, adding he doesn’t want to spend the money to do this unless the city approves the project.

The north end of the subdivision is the only portion of Prairie’s Edge that hasn’t been planned out previously, he said.

Commission member Mike Ehrlich said he likes the idea of senior living, noting it is a need in the community, but said it also points to the need for commercial services nearby to accommodate residents who don’t drive.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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