Port to continue fund, Council OKs hotel loanPort to continue fund, Council OKs hotel loan

The Port Washington Common Council last week approved a $150,000 revolving load fund loan for the Harborview motel to help finance ongoing renovations. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Common Council  agreed last week to continue its revolving loan fund program, and minutes later agreed to award a $150,000 loan to help finance improvements to the Harborview hotel in downtown.

Revolving loan funds are one of the few economic development tools available to communities hoping to attract and retain businesses, but recently the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provided seed money for the program, decided to end it.

However, communities that received funds for the revolving loan program from HUD before 1992 may retain the money and program, Ozaukee Economic Development Executive Director Kathleen Cady Schilling  told aldermen.

Since the city received its initial loan of about $500,000, she said, its pot of money has grown to about $1 million.

There are six active loans, she said, adding all the businesses are making payments in a timely manner.

Several changes are being made in the program, Cady Schilling said.

The loans will continue to require employee retention and job creation, she said, but they will include positions at all income levels, not just low and moderate-income jobs.

There will also be two loan programs — loans of more than $25,000, which would be approved for a maximum 10-year term, and those of less than $25,000, which would be lent for a five-year maximum term.

The loans would also be available to help with construction costs, something not allowed previously, Cady Schilling said.

The revolving loan approved for the hotel will be issued at 2.75% interest over 10 years.

It will be matched by a private loan and be used in renovating the hotel, a $2.5 million project that includes facade improvement, the creation of a new restaurant and bar, an enlarged lobby and entrance, new windows and upgraded room amenities and new conference, meeting and party rooms.

Cady Schilling said the hotel is not only a profitable business, it’s a vital business in downtown and moving its bar and restaurant from the basement to a first-floor location visible from the main streets of the city “will have a strong impact.”

The project will also have a significant impact on employment, she said.

Harborview General Manager Cathy Wilger said at the meeting that the number of jobs at the hotel will nearly double when the project is completed.

City Administrator Mark Grams noted that the hotel pays about $150,000 annually in room tax to the city. Even if the hotel were to default on the loan, he said, in essence it would have gotten its money back through the room tax.

“I think this is a no-brainer,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich said. “It’s great for our city, for our downtown, with little risk to the city.”

Work on the hotel is underway. The lobby and lower level are expected to be completed by the first week in May, with the new restaurant and bar opening at the end of June.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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