PR firm taps into buzz about Ansay proposal

Developer hires company to go door-to-door to get feedback on bold plan for Port lakefront development

ANSAY DEVELOPMENT’S PROPOSED Newport Shores multi-use building, depicted in this rendering by Rinka/Chung Architects from the lake looking northwest, features a modern design with plenty of glass to take in the views. The design is intended to reflect the lake and marina while drawing people to the lakefront.
Kristyn Halbig Ziehm
Ozaukee Press staff

Chris Korjenek has become a fixture in downtown Port Washington over the past several weekends, knocking on doors to  ask people what they think about Ansay Development’s plans for Newport Shores.

Korjenek is senior project manager for Lanser Public Affairs in Milwaukee, a public relations firm hired by Ansay Development to do community outreach.

“It’s not very common for a developer to do this, but it’s a good thing for the developer to do,” Korjenek said.

“This is a huge commitment. It shows a real commitment by the developer to find out what the public thinks and address it, and a commitment to the project itself.”

Not only is the firm conducting a door-to-door survey, talking to people and business owners within a quarter-mile of the development site to get their opinions and provide information about the project, it is also organizing a public informational meeting about the development to be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at Newport Shores restaurant.

 The meeting will be an open house, so people can come and go as they please, Korjenek said. The architect, real estate agents and representatives of Ansay will be on hand to answer questions and listen to concerns.

 In addition, the firm is talking to the city’s nonprofit groups to get their take on the development and find out what they would like to see in the public spaces around Ansay’s proposed development.

“We’re talking to anybody who has a vested interest in the project,” Korjenek said. “We listen to what they have to say, good and bad, and we educate them on different aspects of the project. 

 “The public is very involved in this.”

 The Newport Shores development is a bold plan that would create a multi-use lakefront building that would house offices, condominiums, a restaurant and pub as well as a retail store.

Its modern design stands in contrast to the rest of the downtown’s more historic appearance, and the fact it would replace a popular restaurant, be partially built on city land and force the relocation of the Kiwanis shelter and the city’s fish cleaning station have prompted some concerns. 

Korjenek, who has been canvassing the area from the lakefront west to Wisconsin Street, north to Powers Street and south to Grand Avenue, expects to talk to about 200 people by the time she’s done.

While some developers take on this chore themselves, hiring an outside firm provides an impartial ear for people, Korjenek said.

“People will open up to us and tell us everything they’re thinking,” she said. “Most people want to talk about it, positive or negative. It’s really fun just to listen to people and correct some of the bad information that’s out there.”

Many people are aware of the project, Korjenek said, but if they aren’t, she explains the development to them.

The biggest concern seems to be parking, she said, so she explains that the development won’t remove any of the public parking and will include enough parking within the facility to handle much of its own traffic.

Other concerns include the loss of views and the architecture, Korjenek said.

“Architectural style is very much a personal thing. Some people like it, some people don’t,” she said, adding that she also explains how the glass relates to the lake and how it lightens the appearance of the building.

 She also highlights the fact that the building is being situated to maximize street views while taking advantage of the lakefront location.

 People have also expressed concern about the loss of Newport Shores restaurant and their fear that owner John Weinrich is being forced out of business, Korjenek said. She points out that Weinrich is a partner in the development.

 Korjenek said that the people she’s spoken to are positive about the project.

 “I’m finding people, once you explain it to them, are generally accepting of it,” she said.

 But, she added, she will take the concerns and input from the public and present it not just to Ansay but to the city as well.

 Korjenek said the amount of lakefront development proposed for Port is both exciting and confusing for people.

“There is a considerable amount of development going on right now,” she said. “I think it can be a little overwhelming for people.”



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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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