FRANKLIN ENERGY is scheduled to move its Port Washington offices into the Smith Bros. Marketplace building this weekend.
Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Firm’s relocation to Smith Bros. building clears way for new Port senior center, sale of city’s historic firehouse
Franklin Energy Services will move into its new downtown Port Washington headquarters in the Smith Bros. Marketplace building this weekend, setting in motion a unique lease agreement with the city.
Company spokeswoman Jan Peiffer said the firm will have vacated its current offices in a remodeled church on Foster Street in Port Washington by Monday, clearing the way for the city to lease the building for use as a new senior center.
The city, in turn, will vacate the historic firehouse on Wisconsin Street that now serves as a senior center perhaps by March, City Administrator Mark Grams said. Aldermen have decided to sell the building,
which the Port Washington Historical Society has said it would like to use as a museum.
The deal was designed to not only keep the fast-growing energy-efficiency program management firm in Port Washington, but encourage it to move downtown to a virtually unoccupied landmark building. The only other tenant in the spacious former Smith Bros. Restaurant is a coffee shop.
The agreement also provides the city with a new senior center to replace its current, cramped facility, which is in need of significant maintenance work.
The city has agreed to a three-year lease with KAB Enterprises, which owns the remodeled church and leases it to Franklin Energy, that will cost the city about $222,000. The city also plans to invest between $200,000 and $246,000 in improvements to the building, bringing the total three-year cost for the senior center move to as much as $468,000.
After three years, the city has the option to purchase the building for $550,000 — a move that would bring the total city cost close to $1 million. It could also renew its lease or move to a different site. Officials
said they think the remodeled church will make a good senior center but consider it an interim location.
Grams said this week that although the city will very shortly be free to move into remodeled church, it will probably be March before it is ready to accommodate the senior center. The city still has to have its plans for the building approved by the state, and the remodeling work, which includes the installation of an elevator, could take several months.
The work for Franklin Energy, however, is just about completed, Peiffer said. The company will be operating out of its offices on the second floor of the Smith Bros. building by Monday.
Initially, 41 employees will be working out of the downtown offices, Peiffer said, adding that number is expected to increase.
“We have about 30 job openings, although not all the people that will be hired will be working out of this location,” she said.
The Common Council is expected next week to finalize changes that will provide parking for Franklin Energy employes at the north end of the north slip section of the marina, Grams said.
Founded in 1994 by longtime Port Washington resident and current CEO Paul Schueller, Franklin Energy Services was purchased in October by Cortec Group, a New York private equity firm, from Brass Ring Capital, a Milwaukee-based private
At the time of the sale, Schueller said the company remains committed to Port Washington. It has signed a 7-1/2-year lease for the Smith Bros. property.