Port’s largest TIF incentive inked as part of agreement

Council votes 5-2 to approve deal for Newport Shores lakefront project

A rendering shows the proposed Newport Shores development from the corner of Washington and Lake streets on Port Washington's lakefront.
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

A developer’s agreement that spells out the terms of the largest tax incremental financing incentive in Port Washington’s history was approved, 5-2, by the Common Council last week after a debate over control of two marina slips almost derailed the discussion.

Two aldermen, Mike Gasper and Patrick Tearney, voted against the agreement.

The agreement spells out the terms of a pay-as-you-go TIF district that will provide Ansay Development with a maximum $4.26 million to offset its costs for the Newport Shores development over the life of the district, which is expected to end in 2035.

In return, the city will receive an annual payment of at least $16,017, or 5% of the taxes paid on the property, through 2035. 

The funds Ansay and the city will receive come from the additional tax revenue generated by the $20 million development. If the project does not generate the necessary funds, the city will still receive its payment but Ansay’s share will be less than anticipated.

“This risk is not on the city but on the developer,” City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said. 

Ian McCain, Ansay’s design/construction manager, said demolition of the current Newport Shores restaurant is expected to begin in September with completion of the project to take about one year.

“We’re beyond ready to get going on this,” he said. “I still have to sell units this year to move this forward.”

The agreement calls for Ansay to begin work on the project by Dec. 31, 2020, or a land swap between the city and developer will be voided.

Ansay has proposed replacing the Newport Shores restaurant building and several adjoining structures with a modern structure  with a mix of uses — as many as 30 condominiums, office space, a store, restaurant and rooftop pub.

The L-shaped building, which features a bold, glassy design, would encompass not only the eatery but require a portion of the city-owned property south of the restaurant. In return for this land, the city will be given property currently owned by the restaurant along the lakeshore.

The agreement also calls for Ansay to retain ownership of one of two slips on the fifth marina pier that Newport Shores owner John Weinrich controls. Ansay will have the first right to lease the other slip from the city. If the company rents its slips, the city will receive the equivalent of transient fees.

But Ald. Mike Gasper questioned why Ansay would be given the right to these slips, which were granted to Weinrich because he had the riparian rights when the fifth pier was built.

The city is being given the lakefront property as part of the deal, Gasper noted, so those rights would be the city’s, not Weinrich’s, and the city should again be given control of the slips.

“It seems like an extra extravagance,” Gasper said. “We’re granting you $4.3 million in incentives ... yet you demand to keep that $1,700-a-year slip on top of that. 

“This would be a deal killer to me even if other things weren’t.”

Tom Meaux, president and chief operating officer of Ansay Holdings, said the slips are essential to the development and its valuation.

He asked Gasper if the slips were “more important to you than a $20 million investment in the heart of your city?”

Mayor Marty Becker said the agreement reflects a compromise, while Ald. Mike Ehrlich said Gasper’s insistence on retaining control of the slips was “silly.”

“I’m not willing to lose a development like this over $3,500 a year,” Ehrlich said, referring to the total the city could receive annually by leasing the two slips. “The long-term benefits are way more significant.”

As part of the project, the developer will replace the Kiwanis shelter at a cost of no more than $45,000, and move the fish cleaning station at the marina. Both shall be moved to a spot selected by the city during the off-season.
  The agreement also calls for Ansay to take ownership of Jackson Street from Lake Street east to the lakefront and to grant the city a permanent easement allowing the public access to the lakeshore.

“Anybody can park there,” McCain said. “But the reality is most frequently those are going to be used by people going into this building, so this should be our responsibility.”

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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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