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Filling Foxys: What Will Become of a Building Sitting Empty?

With the denial of a liquor license to Deville's Lounge earlier this week, the former Foxys Bar location now sits as another empty storefront in Port's downtown. What is the solution to this problem?

With his liquor license denied by the Port Washington Common Council this week, friends of the hopeful business owner Troy Koput say he is "exploring his options" to continue pursuit of opening Deville's Lounge.

It's not clear what those options might entail, but one thing is for sure: a vacant building remains in the downtown Port Washington area, with little hope that a business is opened any time soon.

Ald. Jim Vollmar, who represents the 3rd District — which includes the downtown — was the sole dissenting vote against the decision to deny the license.

"I'm concerned for the building — the building is set up for use as a place to serve alcoholic beverages," he said, "if it is empty, it will be just another empty building downtown. I don’t think we have an alternative business to go in there, and I don’t know if anyone has even considered (that) … but the building, as it sits right now … if it's going to remain empty and not worked on — how is that going to affect the neighborhood itself?"

Other city officials were concerned that a bar without a clearly laid out business plan, and a strategy to deter the police call history such as Foxys had, would not be a good fit — especially considering other downtown renovations including the development of the former Lueptow's building next door, as well as the former M&I buildings across the street.

"I'm not sure why you'd deter anyone from opening a new business," said Nick Meier, who came to the council meeting on Tuesday in support of Koput. "It sounds like the new potential owners have remodeled this place … to cater to an older, possibly more responsible crowd."

Koput had described his planned business as having a "lounge atmosphere," drawing a crowd from anyone aged 21 to 70.

"It would be more social than drinking — that’s how I’m trying to alleviate the problems that have occurred," Koput said, briefly describing an envisioned layout as a way to create a more social atmosphere.

But the brevity of it all struck city officials to core, wishing they could have seen an indepth business plan.

"Is there enough here to think that that location is going to change?" Ald. Dave Larson said during the meeting.

The Boerner Mercantile renovations (in the former Lueptow's building) next door will result in an extremely updated alley between the former Foxys Bar location and that building; the upgrade will make the alley more pedestrian friendly, also adding lights to the area.

Could that alone deter so many police calls to a bar in the former Foxys location?

"I think it would help," Ald. Mike Ehrlich said, adding that he still believes people who are going to engage in illegal activity are going to do it when the opportunity presents itself.

Though Koput had begun his own renovations to the Foxys location, his work on the building has stopped.

"There's no point to keep going and spending money until I have a liquor license. I'm not going to finish redoing the bathrooms until I have a liquor license," Koput said. "My business wants to come in here and finish what we started, but without this license there's no reason to. I'm not going to spend another $7,000 to $8,000," and then have to walk away.

Do you think the Foxys location is doomed to be a "problem" if it becomes another bar? What's the solution?

Tell us in the comments.

Greg Huegerich December 21, 2012 at 07:24 PM
What depth of a business plan has been required for other bars opening in the area? How did the business plan from the Port Hole differ from Devilles? Or was this an arbitrary decision to single out one potential location/owner? I'm concerned about the lack of consistency from the council. I'm concerned about the lack of depth in their own public plans for the downtown area.
Greg December 22, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Maybe the Historical Society needs more room.
Terry December 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I find it a bit strange that the Patch would be suddenly concerned about a bushiness left empty, when the coverage that they have given this seemed slanted towards denying the license...
That guy February 24, 2013 at 07:48 PM
21 to 70 ...... Great plan. You've got to be kidding me. There is no "dance club" anywhere near Port Washington even though there are droves of young people willing to spend there money at one and blow off steam. Regardless of whether or not that turns into a great bar, people will still drink at the many other average to hole in the wall bars port has to offer. So instead of capitalizing on the obvious revenue sitting in front of them, the city council thinks a vacant building is a better option? Curious if the owner of schooners has the ears of the dissenters. Foxys closing fattens his or her wallet. The idea that a bar two blocks from a police department is too dangerous is a f*cking joke. Lets stop living in our closed off suburbia wonderland and open our eyes here. A quality bar and late night restaurants create jobs and revenue. Things we desperately need right now. Instead of striking down liquor licenses lets figure out why there is no taxi service that offers rides late at night. Seems to me in lieu of public safety, port washington thinks its a better idea to take in money for drunk driving citations......

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