Work on Blues Factory lot begins

As $89,500 project gets underway, city prepares to negotiate design changes, delay deadline for start of work on lakefront entertainment complex

A SHOVEL was parked on Port Washington’s north marina slip parking lot last week as crews prepared to stabilize the sheetwall, preparing the area for construction of the Blues Factory entertainment complex. The north end of the Blues Factory, which would include a restaurant, banquet hall and performance space that pay homage to the city’s role in Paramount Records, is shown in the inset photo. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Work to shore up the north marina slip parking lot wall began in earnest this week — an $89,500 project intended to stabilize the sheetwall and pave the way for development of the planned Blues Factory entertainment complex.

A crew from Michels Foundations of New Berlin has stripped the timber facing from the sheetpiling and installed a wale — a structural plate that connects the tie rods to the sheetpile to keep the wall in place — Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.

The crew was expected to start the directional drilling needed to install new tiebacks on Wednesday, he said.

The tiebacks, which attach to the wale at the sheetpile, are being set into the soil below the parking lot at a 45-degree angle. They extend 30 feet and will then be anchored in place with injected grout, Vanden Noven said.

The project could be completed as early as the end of next week, he added.

City officials, arguing that the wall needed to be stabilized regardless of development on the parking lot, agreed to pay $85,000 of the cost of the work, with the remaining $4,500 being paid by Blues Factory developer TBF Development LLC.

The completion of the project “kind of starts the clock” on the Blues Factory development timeline, City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday.

However, he said, the city is expected to adjust its timeline because it asked developer Gertjan van den Broek to hold off on his plans while Port Harbor Center owners Don Voigt and Jim Vollmar worked to redevelop the former grocery store in the strip mall next to the parking lot.

The Vollmar-Voigt plan depended on widening the alley between the shopping center and the Blues Factory and clipping a corner of the entertainment center so the condominiums the pair planned would have lake views.

However, that plan fell apart earlier this month and the city issued a raze or repair order for the building. The former grocery store is now expected to be torn down beginning next week, Grams said.

But some officials are still interested in having van den Broek move his building to create the wider alley and improve views to the waterfront — something seen by many as a way to not only improve the aesthetics but also help gain public approval for the Blues Factory — Grams said.

“We’re still discussing it,” he said. “He (van den Broek) is interested in looking at it.”

Those talks could once again delay the timeline, Grams said.

The Common Council is expected to discuss adjusting the timeline for the Blues Factory when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20.

The Blues Factory would include a restaurant, performance space and banquet hall, which will pay homage to the role Port Washington played in blues recording history as home to the Wisconsin Chair Co., the parent company of Paramount Records, which is noted for its early blues recordings.

Van den Broek has said he is in talks with parties interested in operating the venues within the Blues Factory.

But the matter has been a source of controversy since officials decided to sell the city-owned waterfront parking lot for development, saying a year-round attraction should be built there to draw people to downtown.

The controversy has split the community and has been credited with the ouster of several longtime aldermen in recent elections, but the city has forged ahead with plans for the Blues Factory, selling the parking lot to TBF Development LLC for $250,000 in January.




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Ozaukee Press

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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