New Blues Factory deal not ready for council

Agreement amended to remove key deadline for developer not completed in time for vote as planned

A revised developer's agreement for the Blues Factory, shown in this rendering, was not completed in time to be considered by the Port Washington Common Council Tuesday. The deal is being revised to remove a key deadline for the developer.
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press Staff

An amended developer’s agreement for the Blues Factory entertainment complex planned for Port Washington’s north marina slip was not presented to the Common Council for consideration Tuesday.

City Administrator Mark Grams said the agreement had not been completed in time for the meeting.

“It was my call. I wanted to make sure it was finalized,” he said. “We just weren’t ready.”

But when the document wasn’t prepared before the council agenda was completed on Friday, Grams said he decided to remove it from the agenda.

Developer Gertjan van den Broek was out of town last week, Grams said, and returned early this week.

The amended agreement was expected to reflect the council’s decision earlier this month to waive the deadline for van den Broek to begin construction of the proposed Blues Factory.

It was also expected to require van den Broek to widen the alley between the Blues Factory and the neighboring shopping center land by at least five feet and clip the southwest corner of his building — measures sought by the shopping center owners when they had proposed converting a former grocery store on the north end of their building to condominiums.

The council’s decision was contingent on van den Broek receiving assurances in writing from his mortgage lender that the city will be able to buy back the land for $250,000 — the amount he paid for the property — if the Blues Factory is not developed.

Van den Broek has told officials that his bank has agreed to conditions imposed by the Common Council earlier this month, Grams said Tuesday, adding he is waiting for paperwork to arrive that will confirm that.

Although the council agreed to the changes on April 4, they won’t be finalized until the amended developer’s agreement is approved by aldermen.

“If they don’t approve it, it goes back to the current language,” Grams said. 

That language calls for substantial construction to begin within 180 days after the city completes work to stabilize the sheetwall — a date that officials said hasn’t yet been determined. If construction doesn’t start, the city has 45 days to buy back the property. 

Two aldermen, John Sigwart and Mike Gasper, voted against the proposed changes, saying they believe some deadlines are necessary to protect the city’s interests.

The changes to the agreement were prompted by the fact the city asked van den Broek to delay work on the Blues Factory last year in order to try and reach an agreement with the shopping center owners so both projects could proceed.

Officials had said they would alter the deadlines in the developer’s agreement, but they expressed concern about that after learning the city would then lose its ability to repurchase the land if the Blues Factory isn’t built.

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