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Seawall fix for Blues Factory gets complicated PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 16 August 2017 18:42

Aldermen delay engineering decision amid questions about cost of repairs needed for uncertain development

    Port Washington aldermen on Tuesday delayed hiring an engineering firm to design marina repairs to pave the way for the proposed waterfront Blues Factory entertainment complex, saying they want more information about the cost of the potentially expensive work needed to accommodate the uncertain development.
    Instead of agreeing to spend $14,800 to hire a Sheboygan engineering firm to design the repairs, the Common Council approved paying the company no more than $4,000 for preliminary work to provide a better idea of how much marina repairs would cost the city.
    At issue is the seawall of the north end of the north slip portion of the marina, which abuts the Washington Street parking lot the city has agreed to sell to developer Gertjan van den Broek for the controversial Blues Factory.
    Roger Miller of Miller Engineers & Scientists described the wall as being in generally good shape. Inspections over the years have revealed no problems and the sheet metal will likely last for another 50 to 60 years, he said. But a visual inspection of the infrastructure buried in the parking lot to support the wall— tiebacks and deadmen ­— revealed the wall is no longer properly anchored.
    Without a development on the site, the city could simply monitor the seawall, which shows no signs of failing, then eventually repair the existing tieback system, Miller said.
    “There is no emergency at this time,” he said. “If the (Blues Factory) project doesn’t go ahead, you may just be monitoring the wall for a few years.”
    Repairs would be required, however, if the parking lot were developed. Miller initially proposed repairing the existing tieback system and anchoring it to the foundation of the Blues Factory, but that option was rejected by van den Broek’s engineers and architects, city officials said.
    “When we met with representatives of the Blues Factory, we had hoped to work with them to connect to the foundation, but they were adamant they didn’t want to do that,” City Engineer Rob Vanden Noven said. “Still, I’d like to think this is an option.”
    The alternative, Miller told aldermen, is a new anchor system for the wall that would be independent of the Blues Factory. While he said he didn’t have prices for the options, Miller estimated the new anchor system would cost between $100,000 and $150,000.
    Vanden Noven recommended against proceeding with the seawall project until it is certain the parking lot site will be developed.
    “We could ask Roger (Miller) to provide more information on the cost differential ... or wait until we have a commitment from the Blues Factory or another developer,” he said. “I wouldn’t proceed until they (the Blues Factory) have their financing and everything is in order.”
    Last year, the city agreed to sell the north slip parking lot to the Blues Factory Inc. for $250,000 and give the firm $1 million in development incentives, which can be applied to the purchase.
    The city would be responsible for any seawall work.
    The deadline for the sale was initially set for April 5 but has been delayed until February 2018.
    The development — a building designed to resemble the Wisconsin Chair Co. factory that once stood on the site would include a restaurant, banquet facility and performance venue — has been controversial since it was proposed.
    On one side of the debate are residents opposed to the sale of public, lakefront land for private development that they argue would block access to the lake.
    On the other are aldermen and others who say a development such as the Blues Factory is needed on the parking lot site to spark economic development in the marina district.    

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