It’s been a long battle in the fate of the former M&I bank property in downtown Port Washington, and the buildings have now been hooked to a ticking time bomb — one that officials are hopeful won't ever go off.
The Port Washington Common Council approved a developer's agreement with purchaser Gertjan van den Broek of Renew Port Holdings LLC during Tuesday night’s meeting, finalizing a very specific timeline to see development start on the building. If a deadline is missed, the city will have the opportunity to raze the building.
But because the agreement also requires van den Broek to forfeit a $60,000 letter of credit that will be issued to the city, Ald. Joe Dean said that is "60,000 reasons" the council can become more comfortable with van den Broek’s ability to get the work completed.
Other city officials agreed.
“We’re trying to work with these developers ... and I think that this (agreement) should work if (the council is) OK with it,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich said.
Deadlines are as follows:
- May 21: Make fixes to the building facade. The facade had been a major concern because of the danger falling pieces posed to visitors walking the streets of downtown Port Washington.
- September 2012: Submit concept plans to the Plan Commission.
- April 2013: Begin construction following approval of the plans.
- October 2013: 51 percent of the planned redevelopment construction must be completed.
The timeline has been a top priority by city officials because of the recent history of the property — under the ownership of Port Harbor Investments LLC, the buildings have sat unused and deteriorating since Port Harbor purchased the properties in 2007.
Since then, the buildings at 122 N. Franklin St. have survived three demolition deadlines:
- April 15, 2011: City Attorney Eric Eberhardt had reached a tentative agreement with Port Harbor LLC in a lawsuit against the company, which had purchased the buildings in late 2007 but was unable to make promised renovations. In the pact, the company agreed to raze the buildings.
- Dec. 28, 2011: The Common Council declined to accept the agreement with Port Harbor, and set its own date to sell or demolish the structures.
- Jan. 20, 2012: A little more than a week before the December deadline, the council learned that van den Broek was interested in the buildings and gave him an additional month to complete certain inspections and make financial arrangements.
"What you've had for the past 5, 6, 7, 8 years is a property that’s not utilized at all, and an eyesore," said Bruce McIlnay, van den Broek's attorney, pointing to his client's commitment to breathe life back to the buildings.
Van den Broek, who also owns Harry's Restaurant and recently purchased Java Dock, has been working with architect Jim Reed on a tentative plan that sees the building being home to 19 apartment units — with lake views and some penthouse suites with private rooftop decks — as well as commercial store fronts on the North Franklin Street side, lower level.
This is a long-term plan, with construction to be done in phases. As van den Broek searches for tenants, it's also possible that the group could look at other ways to develop the space to better suit interested parties.
Plans are in place for van den Broek to close on the sale of the buildings later this week.
"Thank you again for taking a risk with us in Port Washington," Dean said. "We appreciate it."