Downtown units with lake views hit the market at an average price of $695,000
The “For Sale” sign is about to go up on Port Washington’s newest condominium project — Harbour Lights Lakeside Condominiums in the former M&I Bank building in downtown.
Developer Gertjan van den Broek said Tuesday that the sales office will open next week for the $6 million redevelopment project, which will add 13 high-end condominiums and 10,000 square feet of commercial space to downtown Port.
To do that, he will redevelop the former M&I Bank and Harry’s Restaurant buildings and build a third structure between them.
Van den Broek said he will concentrate his marketing efforts on the residential spaces first, since the project is primarily a residential one.
Without any aggressive marketing, he said, one of the east-side condos has already been spoken for and he has a list of 24 people interested in the condominiums.
“We’ve had a very good response to the project,” van den Broek said.
Speaking to those potential clients, holding open houses for brokers and real estate agents and getting the project website up and running are the goals for April, van den Broek said.
With open houses set for summer, he foresees the bulk of the presales for the project being completed this summer, with construction slated to begin in October and end by fall 2015, when residents can move in.
In order to get banks to finance the project and the City of Port Washington to provide the development incentives it has agreed to, van den Broek must sell 60% of the project before construction begins.
That’s the equivalent of the six east-side condominiums, he said.
The average price tag for those east-side condos is $695,000, van den Broek said, adding they average about 2,400 square feet.
The seven west-side condominiumswill be priced from $250,000 to the $300,000s, range in size from 1,500 to 1,900 square feet, he said.
Each condo has one underground parking space with opportunities for the owner to purchase a second spot.
The views on both sides of the building are spectacular, van den Broek said.
“The lake views are spectacular, but our west units are pretty phenomenal,” he said. “Port’s downtown is beautiful, so they offer great views too.”
Each unit has three upgrade packages that will allow owners to customize and individualize their condominium, as well as a white-box option in which the owner can design the unit.
Van den Broek said the residential project will meet a need expressed by empty nesters in the area, a market that’s borne out by market research.
“Their ties are here, but we found there’s no place for them to go except downtown Milwaukee,” he said. “The other condo projects in downtown are for the most part full. They’re significantly smaller.
“What we have to offer is a different product.”
A big part of the project’s appeal is Port Washington, and van den Broek is marketing the city as much as the project.
“That’s part of this project’s appeal, the environment in which it sits — the beauty of Port Washington and how many good things are happening in Port Washington right now,” he said.
Van den Broek said the project would not be moving forward without the city’s willingness to provide $1.75 million in development incentives. The incentives will be repaid to the city through the increased taxes generated by the project.
“It was a game-changer,” he said, noting it gave banks, investors and potential residents assurance that it will be built. “None of this would have happened if the city hadn’t said it was willing to partner on the project.
“When everybody’s pulling in the same direction, it has a much greater opportunity for success,” van den Broek said. “The only question now is whether Port’s ready for the project, whether the economy’s ready for the project.
“And the only way to know that, to get the 60% in presales, is to market the project.”
For Van den Broek, Harbour Lights Lakeside Condominiums is the culmination of more than two years worth of work. He purchased the former bank building through Renew Port Holdings, a limited-liability corporation he set up to provide residents with a chance to pool their resources and invest in the community.
Since the city approved incentives for the project, he said, five investors have joined the corporation, most of them residents of the city.
“People see the project’s moving forward, they see the city’s on board, that this is clearly a public-private partnership, and they’re more willing to invest,” he said.
While Van den Broek is concentrating on the residential aspect of the project right now, he isn’t neglecting the commercial spaces.
“Obviously, we’ve been speaking to people,” he said. “We’re being very selective about the type of tenants we want. We want to fill the spaces with tenants that will complement the residential
aspect of the project, businesses that would fit with the city and the downtown.”