Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 17:35
Port board OKs $750 contribution despite local firm‚Äôs move to Saukville
The Town of Port Washington Board, which earlier this year questioned whether to allocate $750 to support Ozaukee Economic Development, on Monday agreed to contribute to the agency after a presentation by director Kathleen Cady Shilling.
Town Board members were initially leery of spending the money, especially after finding out that Oldenburg Metal Tech Inc. was moving out of the township and into the Village of Saukville.
The company‚Äôs announcement came months after the town approved a change in its zoning code that paved the way for the firm to expand at its 3850 Hwy. KW location.
‚ÄúWe found out they were moving through the newspaper,‚ÄĚ Supr. Jim Rychtik said ‚ÄĒ something he described last month as ‚Äúdisheartening.‚ÄĚ
Town Chairman Jim Melichar noted that he had seen the company owner just days before the announcement, when officials believed the firm was expanding in the township.
‚ÄúI asked him how his expansion was going, and he never said a word (about the move),‚ÄĚ Melichar said.
Cady Shilling said the company‚Äôs first choice was to expand on the site, but a neighboring property owner would not sell land to the firm.
‚ÄúThey (company officials) had very good things to say about the town,‚ÄĚ she said.
They plan to open a new business in the Town of Port building, Cady Shilling added.
The firm still has some operations at the Town of Port building, officials noted, but nowhere near the business that had been there.
Melichar asked how the town could get involved in similar situations to help prevent the loss of business.
That‚Äôs difficult, Cady Shilling said, noting that she is often bound by confidentiality requests not to talk about pending situations.
Officials asked whether any businesses had expressed interest in locating in the town.
‚ÄúRight now, I don‚Äôt have anyone who‚Äôs interested,‚ÄĚ Cady Shilling said.
The biggest deterrent for businesses looking at the town is the fact that it does not offer sewer or water service, she said.
Once utilities are extended to the town, she said, officials may see a boom in business.
Ozaukee Economic Development is a non-profit organization funded by governmental units and private contributions, Cady Shilling said. Sixth-percent of its funding comes from the county, she said.
Virtually every municipality in the county also makes a $750 annual contribution to the group, except for the Town of Saukville, which has never funded the group, she said. The Town of Belgium has not always contributed, she added, and the Town of Fredonia provides $500 annually.
The organization works to attract and retain businesses, as well as provide educational programs, administer the county‚Äôs revolving fund loan program, encourage entrepreneurship and offer an annual career fair.
Rychtik said he supports the group and the annual town contribution. The time is ripe for the organization to have an even greater impact on the township than in the past, he said.
‚ÄúI think the business climate is turning around,‚ÄĚ he said.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 18:01
Port High, Saukville youth programs working together after tough talk last season
Members of the Port Washington High School athletic staff who nearly seven months ago expressed dissatisfaction with the Pirates‚Äô football feeder program ‚ÄĒ the Saukville Rebels ‚ÄĒ and warned that the high school coaches were prepared to field their own youth team said this week the two organizations are now working together to improve both programs.
‚ÄúOur plan is that the Rebels will continue to be a feeder program,‚ÄĚ Port High Athletic Director Thad Gabrielse said Monday. ‚ÄúThere will always be things that we disagree about, but what we do agree on is that everything we‚Äôre doing is for the benefit of the kids who play football.
‚ÄúI‚Äôd saying we‚Äôre taking a positive approach to making this work.‚ÄĚ
News in September of the rift between the two football institutions shocked the Port-Saukville football faithful, who for decades have supported the Rebels as fervently as they have the Pirates.
At the time, Gabrielse said the Port High coaching staff was concerned that the Rebels were not doing enough to teach future Pirates the high school team‚Äôs offense and defense and that there wasn‚Äôt enough emphasis on football fundamentals.
Beyond the technical aspects of the game, Gabrielse said in September, the Port High administration was concerned with the Rebels‚Äô philosophical approach to the game ‚ÄĒ how coaches deal with players and conduct themselves on the field and how playing time is divided among children.
That shocked Larry Donohue, president of the 54-year-old Rebels program, which fields teams for fifth through eighth-graders.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt even know where that‚Äôs coming from,‚ÄĚ Donohue said at the time. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve never cut a single player from our program, and we‚Äôve never turned a kid away because his family couldn‚Äôt afford the registration fee. I always found a way to make sure those kids could play.‚ÄĚ
Lending urgency to the concerns for Port High officials is declining participation in football. A total of about 80 boys played last season on the high school‚Äôs freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams, significantly fewer than in the program‚Äôs heyday.
Now, however, many of those concerns are being addressed by both organizations, thanks, Gabrielse said, to Pirates‚Äô head football coach John Bunyan and his Rebels‚Äô counterpart, Al Lopez, who have been meeting regularly.
‚ÄúIn the February meeting, the question of how to help increase the numbers (of players) at the freshman level was addressed,‚ÄĚ Gabrielse said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre focusing on how we keep kids interested and involved in football.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not that the Rebels were doing anything wrong, but our coaches have some insights based on what they see and hear.
‚ÄúAnd playing time is being addressed.‚ÄĚ
Bunyan said the meetings between the coaches of the programs have focused on maintaining the identities of the two long-standing programs while bringing them together in terms of football mechanics and philosophy.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve had a lot of talks, and they have been very productive in keeping the structure of the two organizations status quo but getting both programs on the same page in terms of offensive and defensive systems, positive coaching and keeping kids interested in football,‚ÄĚ Bunyan said.
‚ÄúCoaching football is a lot of work for youth coaches and my staff, but the good news is we‚Äôre working with people who have their hearts in the right spot.‚ÄĚ
Bunyan said Pirates‚Äô coaches and players will be more visible at Rebels‚Äô practices and games. He envisions high school players attending Rebels practices occasionally and holding additional clinics and events that bring players of all ages and coaches together on the field.
‚ÄúI want to build a community of kids excited about football,‚ÄĚ Bunyan said. ‚ÄúI want kids to have fun and stay interested in football.‚ÄĚ
Donohue is pleased the two programs are working more closely but said he is still perplexed by the sudden breakdown in relations between the organizations last season.
‚ÄúTo tell you the truth, I still don‚Äôt know what happened last season,‚ÄĚ he said last week. ‚ÄúThey (high school athletic staff members) apparently thought we weren‚Äôt doing enough to match what the high school team was doing or we weren‚Äôt doing it fast enough.
‚ÄúWe really haven‚Äôt changed a thing. Working with the high school has been an ongoing process for us. Our intention has always been to do what the high school does, which only makes sense since that‚Äôs where our kids will play eventually.
‚ÄúEither way, everything seems fine now.‚ÄĚ
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 18:45
Downtown units with lake views hit the market at an average price of $695,000
The ‚ÄúFor Sale‚ÄĚ sign is about to go up on Port Washington‚Äôs newest condominium project ‚ÄĒ Harbour Lights Lakeside Condominiums in the former M&I Bank building in downtown.
Developer Gertjan van den Broek said Tuesday that the sales office will open next week for the $6 million redevelopment project, which will add 13 high-end condominiums and 10,000 square feet of commercial space to downtown Port.
To do that, he will redevelop the former M&I Bank and Harry‚Äôs Restaurant buildings and build a third structure between them.
Van den Broek said he will concentrate his marketing efforts on the residential spaces first, since the project is primarily a residential one.
Without any aggressive marketing, he said, one of the east-side condos has already been spoken for and he has a list of 24 people interested in the condominiums.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve had a very good response to the project,‚ÄĚ van den Broek said.
Speaking to those potential clients, holding open houses for brokers and real estate agents and getting the project website up and running are the goals for April, van den Broek said.
With open houses set for summer, he foresees the bulk of the presales for the project being completed this summer, with construction slated to begin in October and end by fall 2015, when residents can move in.
In order to get banks to finance the project and the City of Port Washington to provide the development incentives it has agreed to, van den Broek must sell 60% of the project before construction begins.
That‚Äôs the equivalent of the six east-side condominiums, he said.
The average price tag for those east-side condos is $695,000, van den Broek said, adding they average about 2,400 square feet.
The seven west-side condominiumswill be priced from $250,000 to the $300,000s, range in size from 1,500 to 1,900 square feet, he said.
Each condo has one underground parking space with opportunities for the owner to purchase a second spot.
The views on both sides of the building are spectacular, van den Broek said.
‚ÄúThe lake views are spectacular, but our west units are pretty phenomenal,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúPort‚Äôs downtown is beautiful, so they offer great views too.‚ÄĚ
Each unit has three upgrade packages that will allow owners to customize and individualize their condominium, as well as a white-box option in which the owner can design the unit.
Van den Broek said the residential project will meet a need expressed by empty nesters in the area, a market that‚Äôs borne out by market research.
‚ÄúTheir ties are here, but we found there‚Äôs no place for them to go except downtown Milwaukee,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe other condo projects in downtown are for the most part full. They‚Äôre significantly smaller.
‚ÄúWhat we have to offer is a different product.‚ÄĚ
A big part of the project‚Äôs appeal is Port Washington, and van den Broek is marketing the city as much as the project.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs part of this project‚Äôs appeal, the environment in which it sits ‚ÄĒ the beauty of Port Washington and how many good things are happening in Port Washington right now,‚ÄĚ he said.
Van den Broek said the project would not be moving forward without the city‚Äôs willingness to provide $1.75 million in development incentives. The incentives will be repaid to the city through the increased taxes generated by the project.
‚ÄúIt was a game-changer,‚ÄĚ he said, noting it gave banks, investors and potential residents assurance that it will be built. ‚ÄúNone of this would have happened if the city hadn‚Äôt said it was willing to partner on the project.
‚ÄúWhen everybody‚Äôs pulling in the same direction, it has a much greater opportunity for success,‚ÄĚ van den Broek said. ‚ÄúThe only question now is whether Port‚Äôs ready for the project, whether the economy‚Äôs ready for the project.
‚ÄúAnd the only way to know that, to get the 60% in presales, is to market the project.‚ÄĚ
For Van den Broek, Harbour Lights Lakeside Condominiums is the culmination of more than two years worth of work. He purchased the former bank building through Renew Port Holdings, a limited-liability corporation he set up to provide residents with a chance to pool their resources and invest in the community.
Since the city approved incentives for the project, he said, five investors have joined the corporation, most of them residents of the city.
‚ÄúPeople see the project‚Äôs moving forward, they see the city‚Äôs on board, that this is clearly a public-private partnership, and they‚Äôre more willing to invest,‚ÄĚ he said.
While Van den Broek is concentrating on the residential aspect of the project right now, he isn‚Äôt neglecting the commercial spaces.
‚ÄúObviously, we‚Äôve been speaking to people,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre being very selective about the type of tenants we want. We want to fill the spaces with tenants that will complement the residential
aspect of the project, businesses that would fit with the city and the downtown.‚ÄĚ
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 17:33
Plans for a baseball complex on Port Washington‚Äôs west side got a nod of approval from the city Plan Commission last week.
The commission‚Äôs approval sets the stage for Port Washington Youth Baseball to begin work on the $1.5 million complex, perhaps beginning construction on the first phase by the end of the year.
Before that happens, however, the group must obtain the necessary funding and a grading agreement between the city and its Highway 33 contractor must be successfully completed.
Games wouldn‚Äôt be played at the complex until 2016, association officials said.
The first phase of the project includes a concessions stand and the two largest fields ‚ÄĒ a regulation field and an intermediate sized field ‚ÄĒ as well as infrastructure.
The overall complex would include four fields, a concessions stand with restrooms, parking, playground and a walking trail with fitness stations that would be built on city-owned land at the southeast corner of Highway 33 and Jackson Road.
The concessions stand would be located in the center of the four fields ‚ÄĒ a regulation field, intermediate-sized field and two Little League fields.
The complex would be bordered on the north by three commercial lots that would front Highway 33 and by residential lots on the east side that would abut the Bley Park Estates subdivision.
Motorists would access the complex off Jackson Road and park on the north side, where there would be approximately 100 parking spaces, architect Mike Ehrlich said.
A formal entry featuring donation bricks would be sited there, with paths leading to the diamonds and playground. A roughly half-mile-long walking path would go around the perimeter of the complex.
Each field will have a scoreboard and bleachers, and they ultimately will be lit, Ehrlich said.
Don Buechler, 1782 Second Ave., questioned why neighbors had not been informed about the project before the meeting so they could raise concerns.
He said he believes the complex would result in additional noise, traffic and litter, and he is also concerned about light spilling over into the surrounding neighborhood.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôll change my neighborhood significantly,‚ÄĚ Buechler said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm concerned about the effect on my property value. I don‚Äôt see it as enhancing it.‚ÄĚ
Ehrlich said the baseball association plans to do landscaping to minimize the noise effect, and the fields have been located so the bleachers will face west, away from surrounding residential developments.
The lights will have shields so most of the light will shine onto the fields and not spill out of the complex, Ehrlich said.
Port Youth Baseball President Rich Stasik also noted that tournaments, when the fields will get the most intensive uses, typically end by 10 p.m.
City officials noted that the land has been slated for recreational use since the city purchased it more than a decade ago. The complex is included in the city‚Äôs parks plan, which was the subject of a public hearing.
A memo of understanding between the baseball association and the city that outlined the plans was approved by the Common Council several years ago.
Port Youth Baseball has raised more than $100,000 and is talking to community groups about funding and sponsorships. A fundraising campaign aimed at the entire community is planned.