Blues Factory deals pave way for brewpub

Landowner’s involvement means existing agreement just needs to be amended, subsidy already in place
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Adam Draeger’s plan to develop a new Inventors Brewpub on land once approved for the Blues Factory is moving ahead at a rapid pace, thanks to agreements regarding everything from tax incremental financing district incentives to the conditions of development that were set in place years ago with TBF Development’s Gertjan van den Broek.

TBF Development owns the parking lot at the north end of Port Washington’s north harbor slip and once planned to build the Blues Factory, an entertainment center dedicated to the Wisconsin Chair Co. and its Paramount Records, on the property.

Van den Broek and the city spent years hashing out a developer’s agreement and amendments to that document that put in place as much as $1 million in incentives that Draeger, who is working in partnership with van den Broek on his plan, will be able to draw on, City Administrator Tony Brown said.

To receive the incentives, Brown said, the project must meet certain requirements, such as having the city attorney review the construction contract and providing the city with an appraisal that the project will be worth at least $4.75 million when completed — the Inventors building is expected to be worth $5 million.

Brown said the city will have consultant Christy DeMaster look at the TIF district to ensure it can accommodate the incentive, with improvements covering the cost of the payment.

The city’s original analysis showed that the increase in taxes on the property would cover that incentive payment, but that study was done at least five years ago. The shorter timeframe may make that difficult, Brown said.

“We want to understand the impact of this,” he said.

The developer’s agreement for the property, which was put in place with van den Broek in 2016 and amended several times, still governs the parcel.

That will save Draeger months of negotiations with the city, although the Common Council is expected to consider amending it again when it meets on Feb. 15.

The primary change, Brown said, is eliminating a 5-foot, no-build easement on the west side of the site. A requirement that the southwest corner of the proposed Blues Factory building be angled would also be eliminated.

Those requirements were incorporated into the agreement in 2018 to accommodate a proposal to convert the neighboring shopping center into condominiums — a proposal that’s since been dropped.

That amendment would be the third of three approvals for the project Draeger needs to receive.

The first one, approval of the building, site and operational plan, took a step forward Tuesday when the Design Review Board put its stamp on the building design.

While the board looked strictly at the building design, Brown noted that the Plan Commission, which will look at the design at its Jan. 20 meeting, will also consider the site and operational plans.

The commission will also consider a request for a special exception to exceed the 35-foot height limit at that meeting — the second approval needed.

Although the bulk of the two-story building meets the height requirement, a stairwell and grain silo atop the structure would exceed the limit, Brown said.

If recommended by the Plan Commission, the special exception would then be considered by the Common Council at its Feb. 15 meeting, he said.

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