Weary aldermen delay Blues Factory deal changes

Council decides to wait a week to reconsider deadlines for development after meeting stretches into early morning

THE PROPOSED Blues Factory is designed to resemble a factory reminiscent of the Wisconsin Chair Co. plant that once stood on the same site at the end of the north slip, which is now part of the marina.
Ozaukee Press staff

Port Washington aldermen were expected to discuss changes to the city’s development agreement for the proposed Blues Factory entertainment complex Tuesday night, but after their meeting stretched into Wednesday morning they tabled the issue until next week.

“It’s kind of an important issue, and we’re talking about it at 12:30 in the morning,” Ald. John Sigwart said, asking developer Gertjan van den Broek if the Common Council could delay the debate.

The council meeting began about 7:30 p.m.

“I’m going to leave that to the council,” van den Broek said.

City Administrator Mark Grams told aldermen there are two main deadlines that should be addressed — the required start of construction and a clause that would allow the city to repurchase the north marina slip parking lot.

The start of construction is required to begin within 180 days from completion of the tieback work on the parking lot, something Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said should be completed next week.

Van den Broek had put his project on hold at the city’s request to work with the owners of the neighboring Port Harbor Center and make changes that would have allowed them to convert a vacant grocery store into condominiums — a project that’s now on hold.

But because of that, Grams suggested aldermen consider eliminating the Blues Factory deadlines altogether, since van den Broek may still be willing to work with the shopping center owners.

“Since they (shopping center owners Jim Vollmar and Don Voigt) have talked about not doing anything until next year, why put deadlines in place?” Grams said in a memo to aldermen.

He suggested the city could then require the Blues Factory building be moved at least five feet to the east, creating a wider alley between the buildings and clip the southwest corner of the structure.

That would improve lake views from the proposed condominiums, especially if Vollmar and Voigt move their building five feet to the west. It would also allow balconies on the condos and windows on the west side of the Blues Factory, Grams said.

“How seriously do we think these guys are?” Ald. Dan Benning asked, referring to the shopping center owners. “I don’t want to hold up Gertjan.”

“I’ve given up hope,” Grams said.

Van den Broek said he’s willing to work with the city to widen the alley, adding, “I just want some certainty.”

Benning made the motion to delay the matter, saying that would allow aldermen “to have a good discussion.”

Aldermen will take up the matter during a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, at City Hall.


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