Simplicity property purchased for $4.1 million

New owner said he’ll address city’s concerns with buildings, lease former factory spaces for warehousing

THE SPRAWLING PROPERTY off North Spring Street in Port Washington that was once home to Simplicity Manufacturing was sold last month to a Milwaukee corporation. The 24-acre property, shown here from Woodland Avenue looking north, has a number of buildings with 407,000 square feet of space new owner Ted Weller said he hopes to fix up and rent. Press file photo
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The former Simplicity property on South Spring Street in Port Washington, once a hub of the city’s lawn and garden manufacturing industry, has been sold.

The 24-acre site was sold by C. Coakley Relocation Systems Inc. last month for $4.1 million to TJW Plant 8 LLC.

Ted Weller, owner of the corporation, said he’s working to fix up the property and resolve building issues identified by the city and will then continue leasing the site, primarily for warehousing.

“We have some businesses we’re looking to put in there now,” Weller said. 

Weller, who said he’s getting into real estate, said the property wasn’t on the market but he approached former owner Christopher Coakley with an offer.

 Port Washington, he noted, “seems to be booming right now.”

 The Simplicity property consists of a number of buildings with about 407,000 square feet of space, much of which is currently being used for storage and warehousing, he said.

“A large part of our business in that building is boat and car storage,” Weller said. “I have a bunch of outbuildings that would be great for landscapers.

“Our focus right now is just on getting it filled.”

Of particular interest, he said, is the former Chair Factory warehouse, a three-story, 40,000-square-foot building with all the charm of days gone by.

“It’s just a throwback,” Weller said. “It’s beautiful. People walk in there and their mouths just drop.”

But while Weller is focusing on fixing up the property and renting it out, city officials see redevelopment of the parcel as a key to realizing the goals in the city’s 2035 economic development plan. 

The plan outlines six steps that need to be taken to ensure that 20% to 22% of the city’s equalized valuation comes from commercial and manufacturing uses, which in turn will ensure a balanced local economy where there are family-supporting jobs for residents.

Weller said he’s willing to entertain the city’s plans, saying, “nothing’s set in stone.”

City Administrator Mark Grams said Weller has said he would work with the city on new development.

Weller, who owns Flex Automation in Milwaukee, said he has no plans to move that business to the site.

Simplicity had been a cornerstone of Port Washington’s industrial community for 86 years before the factory and offices were closed by Briggs & Stratton in 2008. Coakley purchased the property shortly before Simplicity closed its doors.

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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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