May 21, 2009

Dollar store proposal on Washington Ave. sent back to committee

Proposed Family Dollar at 1130 Washington Ave.

The Common Council voted unanimously Tuesday send a proposal for a dollar store at 1130 Washington Ave. back to the Redevelopment Authority for further review.

The RDA had voted to grant Minneapolis-based developer Abdo Markethouse a 90-day option to buy the land near Tino's for $70,000. The developer wants to build a 9,180 square-foot Family Dollar with 4,900 square-feet of additional retail space. (Read the proposal here.)

But the plan failed to pass the full Common Council. Alderman Jeff Coe motioned to send the proposal back to the RDA, which will reconsider the development at its June 3 meeting. The RDA voted 5-0 at its May meeting to grant Abdo Markethouse an option on the land.

Jim Puma, the owner of Puma's Custom Cycles Inc., which is across the street from the proposed development site at 1129 Washington Ave., said he opposes the dollar store.

"A better choice can be made to utilize a great piece of land for the future of midtown," said Puma, referring to the area just north of Uptown. "This a great opportunity. It shouldn't be wasted on a strip mall."

The use of 1130 Washington Ave. is an early test for new Mayor John Dickert. In an interview during the campaign, Dickert said one of the strengths he'd bring to the job was his understanding of real estate. He criticized city officials for supporting developments that may not have been in the city's best interests.

“The biggest problem we had is the former mayor didn’t understand real estate,” Dickert said in April. “Just because a developer comes in doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.”

Puma said the city shouldn't be in any rush to use the vacant land in the 1100 block of Washington Ave, which is the site of the former Schaefer Pontiac. The Schaefer family donated the land, five lots in all, to the city.

The parcel could be a unifying site between Downtown and Uptown, if used correctly, Puma said.

"It doesn't cost them (city officials) a dime to get the right people in," he said. "They can wait. Time is on their side."

The Family Dollar proposal is the third time the RDA has given a developer permission to buy the land. Two gas stations proposed for the site, both by local developers, fell through before they settled on Abdo Markethouse's plan.

Notebook Dump: Leftover notes for this story

Puma said business was slow for the American V-Twin motorcycles he sells. "The economy is affecting us all," he said.

One pitch for anyone interested in motorcycles: They're good for the environment, Puma said. They use fewer materials than cars and get high gas mileage. The high-performance V-Twin gets 35 miles-per-gallon, while some scooters Puma sells get up to 100 mpg.

"Any motorcycle is environmentally sound," Puma said. "Plus, they're a whole lot of fun."


  1. Just one more example of how useless the RCEDC is...Mayor Dickert - get rid of them!

  2. Another boneheaded idea from the RCEDC.

    Let's get some new people in there and some fresh ideas for this city.

  3. So what's your fresh idea - since you think this is a bonehead idea.

  4. Fresh idea is to plant grass, for the last 10-20 years it has been an eyesore anyway, first abandoned by said Schaefer family then as a crappy rent to own rip off star and back to a empty abandoned hulk.
    Plant some grass and call it good for now, always nice to look at green space or as some call it" the knocked out teeth of our neighborhoods"

  5. If they plant grass - it will just turn to weeds and there is no money in the city budget to cut the grass either. At least the current proposal would bring in some tax revenue and eliminate the current eye sore.

  6. Both downtown and uptown could benefit from the space being a nice grocery store.

  7. Glad this is going back to committee. Mayor Dickert knows what he is talking about. Racine does not need a Family Dollar store in that location.

  8. I don't think this area (I live due east about 6-8 blocks of this parcel) can support a nice grocery store. Let me re-phrase that, I don't think a nice grocery will be nice or survive long is this neighborhood.

    I know Outpost or Whole (whom I dislike myself) would never consider locating a store there which leaves Roundy's (I kinda like) to build a Pick n' Save "Metro Mart"=Small footprint for urban areas. Umm, doubtful.

    Wild grass isnt that bad to me, I would prefer a nice grocery.
    I also think calling Family Dollar a dollar store is a bit disingenuous, I have never shopped there but it appears to be Big Lots like.

    Will be interesting to see what Dickey Do does.

  9. RCEDC is once again I understand gunning for the West Racine Farmers Market this time with a Gas Staion on Grove.
    Will RCEDC get the clue? West Racine likes and uses the Farmers Market, not that RCEDC ever care for what a neighborhood wants. Myself I would be very interested if RCEDC members/employees wee ever at the same out of town events and staid at the same hotel as Garry Becker and who those staff members/employees were.

  10. RCEDC's time has come and gone. Mayor Dickert, you said you know real estate. If you do, you know that RCEDC and DRC either need an overhaul with new people - or they need to be disbanded. Racine needs people leading it who are pushing for progress. There is too much complacency in this area. Come on people, let's move forward.

  11. Student Council gets one right. Way to go!!! Who are these people making these friggen' decisions? Seriously, are these the best people we have?

  12. Are some getting RCEDC confused with RDA?
    If so, it is dificult to take your comments seriously.

  13. OMG! How quickly things can change.

    "Dickert said one of the strengths he'd bring to the job was his understanding of real estate. He criticized city officials for supporting developments that may not have been in the city's best interests.

    “The biggest problem we had is the former mayor didn’t understand real estate,” Dickert said in April. “Just because a developer comes in doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.”"

    1) Pointe Blue, marketed and promoted by John Dickert, beat that dead horse for over 2 years with the developer, his friend Scott Fergus and their mutual friend Gary Becker.

    2) River Bend Lofts, a condo development marketed, and promoted by John Dickert that sold 12 of 57 units in over 2 years, now in foreclosure.

    3) 15th & Main St. a condo conversion originally marketed and promoted by John Dickert, has not sold a unit in nearly 2 years.

    John Dickert knows what does not work in Racine Real Estate. Does he know what does work?

  14. In looking at the proposal, looks like RCEDC solicited an RFP from ABDO for development in that area and part of what they're proposing is the Family Dollar. But the RDA had their hand in it by reviewing and recommending the proposal.

  15. John Crimmings5/21/2009 11:44 PM

    Interesting comments. Were any of you at the public hearing about this, and other proposals, for the site in early May? If not, I wonder how now you can complain. If you have some insight, such as the gentleman from across the street, or if you know what will and will not work at this location, why didn't you make your comments known, in public, at the public meeting. And Pete and Dustin, where is this "Do we really want..." comment coming from? Didn't see either of you there as well. Voicing opinion is the American way. Hiding behind blogs is for cowards!

  16. "Man is least in himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." Oscar Wilde

  17. "Yabba, dabba, doo!" Fred Flintstone

  18. Tom Tousis, gas station king from the North Side, wants to put a gas n go convenience center in West Racine. I hear the effort is led by people who don't even live in West Racine.

    Let's see if Jim "Death of West Racine" Spangenberg gets behind this one and then flip flops when people hear about it like he did with the apartments.

  19. John Crimmings IMHO I think you should understand that RCEDC has not brought one real job to this city.
    And can ANYONE tell me why RCEDC was not at the largest Wind Power event in the world and held less then 70 miles from here?
    Could it be because those would have been companies bringing real good paying jobs to this area and not real estate games?

  20. Let's see if the real estate guru who's posing as mayor can figure this one out. This should be great entertainment.

  21. Joyful Breeze5/22/2009 7:56 AM

    Why not an aldi or an affordable food outlet? Laundry? Something to tie in with the Artist movement...Something that this particular neighborhood & drive thru/by 'customers' would stop & use. No more Dollar whatever stores,,,no more liquor,,,no more phones. Someone needs to think of the plan BEFORE it is dropped into the open space. We don't want to go back sooner than later and wonder 'what were we thinking!!' Oh, and can't anyone be civil in these blogs? Strangers reading this will not think positive about Racine...maybe you could start your own online paper!!

  22. Sure glad many others see how useless the RCEDC is. At least one of the employees should have lost her job because of her shenanigan's with Becker. You know who you are...we've heard about you!

  23. I dont think we should be so quick to say Outpost wouldn't come to that area. The area they are in is not all that. Having them in that area may get some people to move into the area. Would also bring jobs.

  24. You know a Food Co-Op would be a great thing for the City. Too bad that what is good for Racine is not part of what RCEDC thinks about. What might that be anyone know?
    IMHO Hamas does a better job with economic development then RCEDC or RAMAC

  25. WEST RACINE MIKE5/22/2009 1:58 PM

    To the individual going under the name Anonymous that refered to the efforts of individuals that are supporting Mr. Tousis in his quest to benefit West Racine and its residents, please note that I am involved with this effort and I do reside in West Racine. It is so easy for people that are spineless to hide behind "anonymous" and attempt to bash people. Feel free to reseach the individuals, such as myself and others involved in this project and get the facts straight before you run off at the mouth. In regards to Jim "Death to West Racine" Spangenberg he is a noble and upstanding person who listens to his constituants and follws their beliefs (what a true politician should do). You also have the whole 55 unit confused that project was spear headed by Mr. O'Connel and his side kick Kristin Niemec, so before you ramble on understand that Mr. Tousis came the people first before he approached the city to get our input. Feel free to email me @ to futher this debate.

  26. West Racine

    Telling you now mess with the West Racine Farmers Market you will have a fight you can not win on your hands.
    We hear your guy the gas king wants something on Grove NOT GOING TO HAPPEN

  27. John Crimmings5/22/2009 6:14 PM

    I guess I'm not understanding the animosity to RCEDC and RAMAC that seems so rampant in this blog. In the interest of full disclosure I have been on the boards of both. Both are organizations committed to improving the business climate here in Racine County. I would think that most people would agree that this is a pretty noble and needed goal. I cannot think of anyone within either organization that does not have the best interests of Racine County in mind. I think we should all be pretty happy that those who choose to work for these organizations are totally committed to bettering Racine County.

  28. mike west racine5/22/2009 7:00 PM

    Colt, as I had mentioned to "Anonymous" in an earlier post feel free to email me @ The Farmers Market is not only safe But will be well protected. Mr. Tousis has not only agreed to allow them to use the site but has offered to install water and electrical at the Southeast side of the parcel, at no cost to them now or at anytime in the future, this is an attempt to keep the Farmers Market at that location, he feels that they are a draw for the resturant, market, and station portion of this development. Futhermore he wants to feature their produce in his market.

  29. John C, I 100% agree with you, RCEDC and RAMAC are vital to keeping Racine on the radar for promoting business development in Racine, and I appreciate your commitment to these organizations. I disagree on the Dollar store proposal as Washington Ave. is one of the corridors to our great Lakefront and Downtown. Patience and something a bit more presentable to our visitors will come along.

  30. I was e-mailing with Colt tonight, and I came up with the following idea. Colt was concerned that the West Racine Farmers Market was in danger. My reply:

    "Of course at sometime there will be a "project" for that corner. So the the Market will need to migrate somewhere... Maybe we should help find a suitable location? How about the 1100 block of Washington..

    Seriously, It could be made to have rental stalls that the city, (or a private developer) could build and charge for. (At this point the city owns the land), I'm talking about something nice open air, like Borgardts used to be. With vendors paying a percentage or flat rental fee, to cover the creation of and maintenance of the property. Imagine spring flowers, fruits veggies, it's almost the Market everyone is asking for. When I was a kid in Detroit there was the Eastern Market, where you could find all sorts of things, including can goods, etc. There was even a few Butcher shoppes in there. The All organic folks could compete with the non-organic folks. Equal rent regardless. The best businesses succeed, the others fail. I would further improve that stretch of land by widening the street and building a Blvd. strip down the middle, with a few plants etc. in the Medium.

    I'm not sure where I come down on this yet..Since it is currently City property, do we the Taxpayers deserve to have it sold off to the highest bidder? I plan to write more on the Blog tonight or tomorrow


    Wow, wouldn't that be a hoot.

  32. When will Mr.Crimmings get it, and this is that these organizations are designed to cater to a white agenda. I am just wondering if the new Mayor gets that he is on borrowed time.

  33. RCEDC & CD = waste of taxpayer money.

  34. Downtown Brown/Pete

    That's not a bad idea bonus if we could get some raised beds in the area too.
    Could me in Hell lets do this!

  35. John C

    Why do I "hate" RCEDC easy as groups like the New North look at Green jobs to move their area of the State Forward by activly looking to bring companies dealing with Wind Power to the State, bring millions of $ and jobs to Northern Wisconsin
    IMHO RCEDC is:
    Give no bid contracts for services such as web pages that are not only poorly designed but not updated
    Still believe that tourism from IL will keep Racine in Business
    Refuse to go to events like Wind Power 09 held the LARGEST wind Power event in the world held less then 80 Miles away.
    Loves to get "into Bed" with real Estate developers and boy what a great track record RCEDC has with that!
    RAMAC anybody a member who is under 70 under 60?

    Like I fully belive HAMAS does a better job of development then RCEDC RAMAC or the M 7.
    Would not be surprised if RCEDC next great idea was to sell water from Lake Michigan after all we have so much of it.

  36. DepressedInRacine5/23/2009 2:34 PM

    Anon 10:20PM wants to turn this into a racial issue. What an idiot. I guess a low class dollar store is his idea of improving life within the black community.

    The RCEDC is a dictatorship of small minded, near sighted individuals who just seem to want to exercise power for the sake of doing so. A perfect example of their ineptitude was when a couple wanted to create a music hall on State Street. They wanted to bring in both big name local and national bands and they WERE NOT going to sell alcohol on the premises. They were shot down because the RCEDC, RAMAC and/or RDA wanted that area developed for business offices. They turned away a legal, viable business that would have created jobs, provided tax revenue for the city, brought people in from out-of-town to spend their dollars here and would have been good for the downtown area. But today we still have vacant buildings sitting there doing nothing because there are no companies that want to put offices in there. These political development organizations need to pull their heads out of where the sun don't shine and and stop prohibiting businesses from developing in this town just because they don't like them. It's not about you RCEDC, RAMAC and RDA, it's about what's good for RACINE!!!!!

  37. I time I think to ask the Mayor to clean house of all the garbage from RCEDC to RAMAC and bring in new folks with new ways of thinking.

  38. Joyful Breeze5/23/2009 8:04 PM

    The Piggly Wiggle building would be the perfect international market!! I know people who go to chicago for Korean...Chinese & other oriental food....Wauhegan for Mexican/Spanish. Why not here in Racine? The building would be for year round and summer, out in the lot or under tents. I would be willing you would see some growth in a very short period of time...just a thought....

  39. Joyful that too is a good idea.

    Why wait for the City to do something the we can do faster and better. RCEDC may not be happy for all I care they should move to Nevada but I guess there is too much companion

  40. To those that believe Mr. Spangenberg doesn't know what he is doing. He is a good and honest man ,probably the most honest of that bunch called the council. Everyone makes mistakes at least he is man enough to own upto it and change his opinion.

  41. Failure To Prognosticate5/27/2009 1:32 AM

    Jim Spangenberg may be honest and John Dickert may be a charlatan.
    But what has either characteristic got to do with predicting what the market will support at 1130 Washington Avenue.
    The investors must be given the power to spend their money where they think they will gain the most. That is the essence of growth.
    The Planners never get it right.

  42. I think the idea of a market similar to the one in the Third Ward in Milwaukee would make sense. The city could put up a low cost metal building with large doors that open for summer markets and heated so it could be used in the winter. Rent the space to farmers, butchers, bakeries, etc, just no flea market. This could be the catalyst for future growth in the area similar to what has happened in many other cities around the country.