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Developers fine-tune pitches for lakefront lot PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 19:01

Ansay, Stephen Perry Smith continue to tout potential benefits of proposals in bid to buy city-owned parcel

With the Port Washington Common Council slated to hold a public discussion next month on the potential sale of a city-owned car-trailer parking lot next to the marina, the two developers who have proposed buying the property for residential uses made another pitch to aldermen last week.

Jim Voelz of Redmond Co. touted the economic benefits of a plan by Ansay Development to create a 44-unit apartment building that would encompass both the city site and the adjoining Victor’s restaurant property.

He estimated that the tenants of the building would spend $893,000 annually on retail goods, compared to $286,000 for a plan for 11 townhouses submitted by Stephen Perry Smith Architects.

“It is absolutely huge,” Voelz said. “That’s one of the main benefits we feel our project brings to the community.”

He also estimated that the annual budget for the tenants of the apartment building would be $2.8 million, compared to $903,000 for the townhouse plan.

“This is an opportunity,” Voelz said. 

Ald. Doug Biggs questioned where the apartment tenants would spend their money, be it downtown Port or at shopping venues elsewhere in the county or beyond.

“How much of that money will stay in Port Washington vs. Grafton, for example?” he asked.

Voelz said the demographic information did not delineate that information.

“Certainly, a portion will be spent in downtown Port Washington,” he said. “The point is the massive difference in buying potential.”

Architect Stephen Smith told aldermen that a main difference between the two proposals is that he is not asking for any city funding while Ansay is seeking $1.5 million in development incentives from the city’s tax incremental financing district.

Because of that, his project will begin paying off for the city immediately, Smith said, estimating the townhouses will pay $79,000 in taxes annually.

The Ansay project, he said, won’t have an immediate impact because its tax payments will offset the incentives.

Smith also noted that several city committees expressed concern about the density of the Ansay proposal, the size and scale of the structure and its impact on the neighborhood.

“I think the (Ansay) building will dwarf the neighboring buildings,” he said. “The question is, is that the right location for the project. The question is how do you do density and do density right?”

Voelz and Tim Wolosz of Engberg Anderson Architects addressed the aesthetic concerns expressed by the city committees.

“We think it relates very well,” Voelz said.

The mass of the building is broken up by vertical elements and varying materials, as well as green screens that will be artistic and provide interest year-round, Wolosz said.

Voelz also noted that apartments are needed in the area, and the building’s location in downtown, close to businesses and restaurants, and on the lakefront will help attract tenants.

Smith, too, said his proposal has attracted interest from prospective buyers. 

The Common Council is expected to have a public discussion on the proposals and perhaps make a decision on which developer to sell the land to next month, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

Originally slated for the Tuesday, Aug. 2, meeting, Grams said this week that the decision may be postponed until Aug. 16 because several aldermen will be absent for the earlier meeting.

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