Seven key properties could shape Port’s future

City is creating map that will include potential uses for important sites

THE LONG-VACANT EVS car dealership on Port Washington’s South Spring Street is one of the brownfield sites that will be included on a map the city is creating to identify potential uses for key properties. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

What should the City of Port Washington look like in 10 years?

That’s the question officials are trying to answer with a new land use map that includes potential uses for what City Planner Bob Harris called “key, susceptible to change areas.”

Those areas include greenfield parcels that haven’t been developed before, such as commercial areas near the I-43 ramps on the city’s north side, the former Schanen farm on the south side of Highway 33 on the city’s far west side, the We Energies bluff land that’s currently for sale, and roughly 172 acres of the former VK Development property along Lakeshore Road.

Those parcels also include brownfield properties, such as the former EVS car lot on Highway 32 on the city’s south side, the Jadair property off Milwaukee Street in downtown and the Wisconsin Street and Whitefish Road area which Harris said contains underutilized commercial sites surrounded by residential properties.

Much of the rest of the land use map and plan remain largely untouched from the city’s 2008 iterations, Harris said, with the goal of ensuring a defined downtown, attractive homes and neighborhoods, a desirable commercial base and multiple modes of transportation.

Development in downtown, for example, should increase density with new residential and mixed-use projects. The Harbor Center should become a mixed-use development with harbor-related uses and any development of the north slip parking lot should provide for extensions of the harborwalk.

The plan also calls for the city to create a downtown master plan and establish historical preservation design standards. 

  But these seven properties “present unique opportunities for change and are susceptible to future changes in use, character or both,” he said in presenting the information to the Plan Commission June 17.

The former EVS car lot, for example, is a highly visible property on the city’s southern gateway that should be designated for high-density residential development, according to the plan, although large, well-designed office space would also be acceptable. Warehousing and storage uses are not recommended.

The Wisconsin Street-Whitefish Road area is slated for small lot or townhouse-style residential development, in part due to the surrounding neighborhood.

Commission member Kyle Knop asked if there was a concern that remediation of the former gas station property on the southeast corner might make redevelopment cost prohibitive, but Harris said that a site like this would be eligible for brownfield grants to mitigate the potential cost.

The Jadair property downtown has been seeing less activity in recent years compared to the significant industrial use “decades ago,” he said, and the city should eye the property for multi-family and multi-story residential uses. Redevelopment should be tied to potential bike and pedestrian connections to Sauk Creek and the Interurban Trail.

On the “north end,” which Harris identified as a two-acre commercial property between the I-43 off-ramp and the NorthPort Shopping Center parking lot and undeveloped parcels straddling the freeway, he suggested a mix of residential and commercial uses.

Knop suggested that mixed-uses development with commercial uses on the first floor and residential uses above could be a good option there.

The Schanen farm, which most recently was looked at as a potential baseball complex with a few homes and commercial sites, is slated for a mix of residential development. And, the plan states, it should be served with municipal sewer service.

Currently, that property is in the Village of Saukville’s sewer service area, and in recent years city officials have worked to bring it into Port’s service area.

  Similarly, the We Energies land is slated for a variety of residential uses, although hospitality services could also be placed there, the plan states. Any development should, however, provide public access to the bluff and link with the neighboring Prairie’s Edge subdivision.

The VK property is also recommended for residential uses, but medium density developments with lots no greater than 15,000 square feet. The only exception recommended is the winery that’s part of the proposed Cedar Vineyard subdivision.

“It seems as though the goals of the city really haven’t changed as far as where we want to go,” commission member Mike Ehrlich said.

Mayor Ted Neitzke suggested the city should discuss the land-use plan with the Port-Saukville School District to ensure the potential development wouldn’t burden any particular school.

Harris noted that the land use plan and map are on the city’s website and Facebook page, adding residents can offer comments that will be taken into consideration as the final draft of the plan is compiled in July.

A public hearing on the plan is expected to be scheduled in August, with final review and adoption after that.

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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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