Officials chided for lack of public discussion submit counteroffer to firm planning headquarters on bluff land
The Port Washington Common Council continued its negotiations with Ansay Development, authorizing a counteroffer be made to the firm for a 44-acre piece of land on the city’s south bluffs, during a closed session Tuesday night — a week before the city’s agreement to negotiate the sale exclusively with the company is set to expire.
The counteroffer could be accepted by the firm or it could offer another alternative, but if it does not, the city will then be able to consider alternative proposals for the land just south of the We Energies power plant, which Ansay has suggested using for its corporate headquarters, a training center and boutique hotel.
Ald. Paul Neumyer said the city needs to carefully consider what is done with the land.
“This is a blank canvas. It’s a large chunk of land and it needs to be treated with care,” he said. “There’s a lot to consider here — it’s right next to a power plant. And we have to ask, do we want more residential land near the winery (Cedar Vineyard subdivision just south of the bluff land, which will have 82 residential lots) or do we want to wait and see how that goes?”
Aldermen would also likely look at how to market the land, City Administrator Mark Grams said, whether it be through a real estate agent, bids or by seeking proposals for the property from developers.
Those discussions are likely to begin at the council’s next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 17, he said.
“There are a lot of things that need to be determined,” Grams said. “The council will have to determine if they want to have discussions with other people who have shown interest in the land or open it up to anyone.”
The city could also continue negotiating with Ansay as it entertains other offers, Mayor Tom Mlada said.
“This is somebody we really believe in,” he said of Ansay. “We fight desperately to retain good employers in the community and to attract new ones.”
Publicity over the Ansay proposal may spur other developers to look at the property, Mlada said, noting the city has never put the land on the market.
The city acquired the undeveloped land from We Energies more than a decade ago as part of a deal in which the community agreed to support the utility’s conversion of its coal-fired plant to a natural gas-fueled facility.
There was talk at the time that the land might be ideal for a mixed-use development, said Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development.