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Replacing Blues Factory sign is city’s call, developer says PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 19:31

Officials asked him to put it up, so they can decide what to do about damaged promotional board

  The controversial Blues Factory sign on Port Washington’s north slip marina parking lot has been damaged, and developer Gertjan van den Broek said Tuesday it is up to the city to decide whether to replace it.
    That’s because the city asked him and other developers to place the signs on the properties they plan to develop, van den Broek said.
    “I’m going to let them decide what to do,” he said.
    Van den Broek and city officials said they believe the sign was vandalized. If the city does want the sign replaced, van den Broek said, they will have to discuss who will pay for it.
    The sign, which was erected in early July, has reignited the controversy over the proposed Blues Factory entertainment complex on the lakefront, infuriating those who oppose the city’s decision to sell the publicly owned parking lot for the development.
    It prompted one opponent to post her own message questioning why the city allowed the sign on city-owned property, and another to ask aldermen to remove it.
    Van den Broek said the city asked the developers who are in the process of buying city land — himself, architect Stephen Perry Smith, who is expected to build townhouses on the boat-trailer parking lot at the east end of Washington Street, and Black Cap Halcyon, which has proposed the Prairie’s Edge subdivision on the south bluff — to erect informational signs at the sites to educate the public, at the developer’s expense.
    Mayor Tom Mlada said the Blues Factory sign “showcased, as part of our city’s ongoing and very active public communication and downtown redevelopment efforts, a vision of the development concept” that the public likely won’t see elsewhere.
    “We want to make sure the community has a clear sense of what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.
    That includes not only increased development that will draw people to the downtown year-round, benefitting all businesses there, but also increasing the city’s tax base.
    Officials said van den Broek obtained a $62 permit from the city allowing him to place a development sign — a temporary sign designating or promoting the future use of a new commercial building, development or subdivision — on the parking lot.
    Van den Broek said Tuesday it appears the vandals tried to rip the metal Blues Factory sign off its supporting posts, tearing one corner off the support and significantly denting it.
    Mlada said the sign is damaged beyond repair, but otherwise declined comment other than to say he hopes the vandal or vandals will be caught and prosecuted.
    He will address the issue at the Common Council’s Aug. 1 meeting, he added.
    Van den Broek     said he continues to work on the Blues Factory, although progress on the building itself is stalled as the city decides how to stabilize the sheetwall in the area.
    He said he is in talks with a restaurateur who has other successful eateries along the Mississippi Blues Trail, and has lined up his financing partners for the project.
    He is also continuing to talk to people about the Blues Factory, saying it is the only way to get over the acrimony that’s occurred between proponents and opponents of the proposed development.