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With Facelift Complete, Former M&I Buildings Clear Another Hurdle

The facade renovation marked progress on a developer's agreement with Port Washington, and city officials are anticipating concept plans due this fall.

Developer  of Renew Port Holdings LLC has met a major deadline in a development agreement with Port Washington, again averting demolition of the former M&I bank property.

The , which posed a risk to those walking near the downtown buildings, was completed by the May 21 deadline. City officials are now awaiting concept plans for developing apartment and retail space there.

"We're very happy (with the progress)," City Planner Randy Tetzlaff said. "It was in pretty tough shape when the previous owners had dismantled parts of the facade," which he said had become a health hazard.

Concept plans for renovating the buildings are due to the Plan Commission in September. As part of the agreement with the city, a missed deadline could spell the end of a , but Tetzlaff said demolition would be painful.

"Everybody is glad there has been no wrecking ball," Tetzlaff said.

Coming deadlines in the project are as follows:

  • 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 was a top priority by city officials because of the recent history of the property — under the ownership of Port Harbor Investments LLC,  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  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  and , has been working with architect Jim Read on a  — 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.

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