Officials say plan for vacant building is sweet deal for Port

Commission praises Hollander Chocolate’s concept of creating headquarters at former EVS dealership site

HOLLANDER CHOCOLATE CO. owner Doug Podzilni held bottles of the company’s chocolate and caramel sauces while standing in front of the former Ernie von Schledorn car dealership in Port. Press file photo
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

A concept plan that paves the way for Hollander Chocolate Co. to create its corporate headquarters in the long vacant Ernie von Schledorn auto dealership property on South Spring St. on Port Washington’s far south side was approved last week by the Plan Commission.

Commission members were enthusiastic about the proposed center.

“I’m looking forward to trying your chocolate syrup on my ice cream,” Ald. Paul Neumyer, a member of the commission, said.

Mayor Ted Neitzke noted that while the building will become the “face” of Hollander Chocolate, its new location will also make it a face for Port Washington.

“You’re now going to be the southeastern anchor of the City of Port Washington,” Neitzke said. “We’re grateful you chose Port.”

Hollander Chocolate Co. produces high-quality chocolate syrups and powders, primarily for the cafe and restaurant industry, and owner Doug Podzilni said the company has been growing “shockingly fast” throughout its seven-year history.

“Premium chocolate is trending,” Podzilni said. “People are willing to pay a little bit more for something good.”

But the company has its operations spread out over buildings in Germantown, Fox Point and Port with manufacturing plants in Illinois and on Milwaukee’s far west side.

The former EVS site offers the company a place to consolidate everything but the manufacturing operations, Podzilni said.

“We’ve grown to a point we need a place to say ‘This is who we are and where we can grow,’” he said.

The EVS site is ideal, Podzilni said, noting Hollander plans to use the dealership’s former showroom for its public activities, such as a gift shop, chocolate museum and coffee shop.

The dealership’s offices would be used as Hollander’s offices, and the back portion of the building would become the distribution center for raw materials and finished goods.

“The geometry of the building works well with what we have planned,” he said.

The company will make changes to the facade and spruce up the grounds to make the property a welcoming site that will attract visitors, Podzilni said.

Podzilni said the company has a three-phase plan for the building that he would like to implement over the next two years.

Phase one involves removing remnants of the car dealership and bringing the building up to food-grade standards so the firm can receive the needed state and federal certifications, then move its inventory to the building and relocate its operations personnel to Port.

The second phase involves remodeling the office space and relocating office personnel, as well as creating an interactive product innovation lab.

The last phase includes building the public areas.

The concept plan was unanimously approved by the commission, but a building, site and operating plan must still be submitted and approved by the panel before Hollander can move ahead with its plans.

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