September 4, 2009

Proposed Dollar Store on Washington Ave. falls through

Plans for a 14,000-square-foot Dollar Store at 1130 Washington Ave. have fallen through.

City Development Director Brian O'Connell said Friday the developer with an option to buy the property - formerly Schaeffer Motors - has not contacted the city in over two months.

Abdo Market House, of Minneapolis, was granted a 90-day option in June to buy the Schaeffer site for $70,000. The company had answered the city's request for proposal on the site with plans to build a dollar store worth over $1 million.

Abdo's option technically expires on Sept. 13, but O'Connell said he wasn't expecting to hear from the developer in the next few days.

The city made repeated attempts to reach the developer, O'Connell said. They made phone calls, sent certified letters and talked to partners on the project in hopes of getting a response. The company never answered, he said.

O'Connell said city officials are considering how to proceed with the site. They could offer another request for proposal and see if any new developers are interested, or pull the property off the market and wait awhile for the market to reset.

No decisions have been made, he said.


  1. How about those big out of town developers? Stick with them City Development, it really seems to be working!

  2. Maybe they should put a Sendik's there, but they probably won't return city development's phone calls either. Maybe CD should post a list of their successful projects. They can use the back of Brian O's business card, I'm sure that is about all the space they will need.

  3. Gee maybe the group trying to get an Urban garden going might be interested its in a bad area and looks like trash.. My Bad Brian O'Connell hates Gardens and Farmers Markets.
    West Racine Farmers Market going to be toast for a Gas Station The Howard Bound Garden idea pushed away for more low income housing to be built (right)

  4. Now Brian knows how it feels to not have phone calls returned. Has he brought anything to Racine?

  5. 4:07

    Scorn,much giggling, some people wondering why he still has a job here, protection from the Post, aid in IMHO Becker being able with RECEDC to give no bid contracts for Up Town Racine Art project,and of course really cool deals for J WAx!
    Best of all free rein from The J-T and The Post
    That's what he has brought I think

  6. Is it safe to say that Kristin Neimiec and Brian O'Connell have done absolutly nothing for Racine? Why do they continue to receive a paycheck?
    What ever happened to the last guy that showed an interest in that site? I believe he was a local business owner, did O'Connell "F" that up as well? It drives me crazy to hear how this city continues to chase away local developers and courts those from out of town. People when will we say enough is enough and remove those loser that we call City Council, and fire that piss poor excuse for a development department.

  7. 6:02 I'm with you brother. Lets clean house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. "O'Connell is considering how to proceed with the site." WTF dose he not have a contingency plan for site. One would think that if you were the top dog in "City Planning and Development" you would have a plan in effect in case this type of situation was to arise. I agree with Anonymous 6:02 get rid of them all!

  9. We've been pretty tough on Brian O'Connell the past few months, but it's worth pointing out he's working in a tough environment. The economy is lousy and Racine's low-income population makes it difficult to attract high-end development. It's tough to blame the city when a reputable developer submits a plan, gets it accepted and then disappears. (That said, there's something to be said for working with local developers. Maybe Racinians will rebuild Racine?)

  10. Dickert why don't you do your job and fire Brian O'connell. How about we eliminate City Development all together. That would make the city come damn close to balancing the budget. I wonder what amount of dough Brian O'connell & Kristen Niemic take out of the city and county budget? What ever it is, it is too much considering that they have done absolutely nothing!

  11. 6:02-

    The last guy interested was Tom Tousis. He was holding out for development grants promised by Becker. They didn't come through and he lost interest. He has yet to submit anything official about his West Racine "project". Just cu the guy built a gas station, that doesn't make him a developer.

  12. "We've been pretty tough on Brian O'Connell the past few months, but it's worth pointing out he's working in a tough environment."

    The Post has been milk toast with no real coverage on what is going on with this nor the links between Becker and links to staff at RCEDC
    interesting that I know ex's make poor sources but information can be checked

  13. Tom Thumb- Are you trying to say that Becker had a "special" relationship with someone at the RCEDC? Please fill us in.

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. To those out there that have been calling me a developer:

    I am not a developer ,never have been a developer, and don't want to be one. Developers like to come in, do a quick deal, flip it, make a buck, then get out of Dodge before the dust settles. I'm just a guy that followed in his father's footsteps running a small business and providing for a family. Just like my father did when he opened his first business in downtown Racine in the 70's. I have no plans on changing anytime soon.
    And yes, I am working on an idea for West Racine and will be submitting it to the city shortly. As for the reason why I haven't submitted anything "formal" to the city yet, there is only one reason. I would first like to make sure that West Racine approves my project before I ask any City Official to approve it. I have talked with hundreds of people from West Racine to find out what they would like to see there and from those conversations with neighbors, I have made many changes, revisions & additions to the original plans. To do something right, it takes time and I am not in any rush.
    Lastly, to anonymous 7:35: You are right, I am just a guy from Racine that built a gas station.

  16. 6:02? Yes. Come on now, Kristin was against that bar for renewal, "The Ok Corral", which was good......

  17. 2Shanty's4aBuck9/05/2009 12:49 AM

    They have this city so F'd up that even "Dollar General" won't come here. I have an idea. Why don't they rent out 10'x10' parcels at that site to homeless families so they can live in tents and rename the land to "O'Connellville". Brian might even be able to catch that wonderful view from his posh office at city hall. If we let these buffoons keep running the city, it might become reality.

  18. Do you think that racism might be playing a role here? Could explain the rude treatment and down talking of Brent Oglesby by Jim Spangenberg & Brian O'connell at the last Redevelopment Authority meeting. Do you have to be old and white in order to qualify to be a "Land Developer" in the city of Racine? All I can say is that treating and talking to people like the GOBC did to Brent the other night will not be tolerated much longer. The man has a respected college degree and is actually trying to make something of himself and the city hall big boys just spit in his face. Keep on fighting Brent! Racine will support you!

  19. Jim Spangenberg, Brian O'connell & Kristen Niemic do you really believe that a dollar tree store was the way to improve that site? You should be ashamed of yourselves. You should put one in West Racine and see how you like it.

  20. My hat is off to Tom Tousis, the comment that you made "I would like to make sure that West Racine approves of my project" was very noble. I find it hard to believe that anyone either locally or from out of state would find Racine in general a good place to invest in, with the way our public officials treat people. To over come our situation i.e high unemployment, high crime, poor school system, low income population (which I feel is a result of Racine/Wisconsin not being business friendly) we as residents need to make sure that our elected officials make decisions based on what we want and not on how they can advance their political asperations. We continue to play the game of chess tearing down buildings to own empty lots believing that we will see upscale companies fighting for said land, this is total ignorence, take the land and give it to financially resposible people, make them sign a contract stating they must spend "X" dollars and own it foe"X" years. Focus Racine it all starts with pride in the community and help from those who have the means to do so!

  21. luchy lou,
    I live on Grove Ave. across from the Farmers Market and we are lucky if they bring in 25 people in the three days they are open. I signed a petition in support of his "Grocery store with Gas Pumps" cant wait until it happens.

  22. West Racinian9/05/2009 8:20 AM

    Anon 2:01, where have you been? There is a Dollar Store in West Racine. It's on Washington Ave. one block west of Lathrop, and I don't believe the neighborhood has suffered for it.

    Luchy Lou (whatever that means), were you not around several weeks ago when we were posting here about this same topic? If memory servers, Tom had agreed to set aside a permanent portion of the property specifically for the Farmer's Market to operate. He also agreed to purchase produce from the Farmer's Market to sell in his own store. That's a big plus for those participating in the Farmer's Market. Now, instead of their produce being sold only a day or two each week, they have a 7 day outlet for their produce.

    I live in West Racine and would welcome Tom's proposed gas station/super market/restaurant/Farmer's Market operation. My only request is that his gas station be a BP gas station that uses domestic oil rather than OPEC's. If so, I would frequent his business.

  23. West Racinian9/05/2009 8:36 AM

    As far as the dollar store deal falling through, why is anyone surprised at this? After the last postings here and hearing how many people trashed the dollar stores and talked about what a low-life business it is and how bad it would be for the neighborhood, that would be enough for me to say, "The hell with Racine," if I was one of the board members of Abdo Market House, I'd probably flip the bird at Racine and walk away too.

    Thank you city council for dragging your feet once again, stiring up the dust and sending a $1 million dollar construction job out of the city that would have employed several of our people, not to mention the permanent jobs that would have been created by the dollar store.

    Oh, and, city council, now that you have acknowledged that Racine is officially a low-income community, go ahead and feel free to continue to do nothing, along with your do nothing mayor, to continue to drive businesses out of town and stifle new businesses from coming here. Maybe we should start a list of the businesses you deny coming to Racine. Let's start with the major music hall that wanted to renovate all those empty building on State St., you know, the one that WAS NOT going to sell alcohol, and then the Chun's that wanted to open the convenience store on 6th St., now the dollar store deal you've screwed up. But you guys sure can push through the special interest property deals for city employees. You bunch of pathetic bums make me sick. I hope every one of you loses your seat in the next election.

  24. Why doesn't Gateway/CATI work on new Corridor Development Technology (CDT). They could travel the world telling everyone how to develop corridors.

    Dustin - the questions about a lack of a contingency plan were quite legitimate and should not be panned because it is a "bad economy". If that will be the justification for nothing happening, then all of these economic development "experts" need to be let go. Of course, that could have happened a long time ago with the only result being the money Racine saved - and could then blow on more nonsense.

  25. West Racinian'
    Don't forget to mention how RCEDC and City Development like to pay out of town companies $57k to do impact surveys to see what shuold be built! Pretty simple if me, my neighbors, and the surrounding community like something and support it let them build it, if we don't "F" it. All these racist morons such as Jim Spangenberg, Terry MCarthy and Brian O'Connell need to go! Any resident of Districts 9, and 12 willing to run I'm sure will have no problem raising funds to unseat these two idiot's.

  26. Hunter Thompson9/05/2009 9:03 AM

    Racine is the cause of its own destruction.

  27. Mason who needs work9/05/2009 9:07 AM

    I would think Racine and Brian O'Connell would be falling all over themselves to help bring development to Racine. Isn't that his job?

    Newsflash Brian, we need jobs, especially construction jobs. Some of us are out of work.

  28. "Racine and Brian O'Connell would be falling all over themselves to help bring development to Racine. Isn't that his job?"

    His job to be better then us + bring in low income housing we are after all a low income city

  29. Dustin and Pete can you guys find out what RCEDC and City Development cost taxpayers in salaries every year. I would like to see it compared to how much they have increased the tax base with projects that they have sponsored in, let's say, the last six years. I can promise you that whatever it is, they cost more than they have increased the tax base in this city, hell, they might have lowered the tax base.

  30. Dustin and Pete can you guys find out what RCEDC and City Development cost taxpayers in salaries every year. I would like to see it compared to how much they have increased the tax base with projects that they have sponsored in, let's say, the last six years. I can promise you that whatever it is, they cost more than they have increased the tax base in this city, hell, they might have lowered the tax base. Which would then make those two groups a really bad investment of taxpayer money.

  31. Anon 10:49 - they don't ever answer when others ask the same question. I doubt if you'll hve any luck.

  32. The salaries should be public information. Just submit request. Orville with state org CRG can help if they bully you.

    Maybe Fritz and Cheri would like to put a boutique there. We don't have a pet boutique yet.

    How about another art gallery?

    Seriously though, those are just excuses. If it is not possible to develop Racine right now then he can go til it gets better.

    I have been in Tom's restaurant and gas station several times. The gas station is very nice until you accidentally wonder by the poker machines and see the seedy people.

    The food is pretty decent love the home cut fries and the price are reasonable, but the slogans on the tight t-shirts on those young girls is not something I will keep coming back for. It just feels gentleman's club for me.

  33. When are these crooked politicians around here going to realize that we need money to pay the bills around here. We don't have time to let the primadonnas decide who and when they are going to let into their high class racist secret club. In order to get rid of elitism, you need to first get rid of the elitists.

  34. Maybe City Development should list the site with the same Milwaukee realtor that has West Blvd. & Washington Ave. With all the suffering going on around Racine, they give the listing to an outsider. Now people calling the shots even think us Racine Realtors are too stupid to handle listing properties that us racine idiots pay for for with our taxes. What a way to stab us in the back, especially now.

  35. MLSWIS -
    I don't know if it is true, but I heard that the listing realtor for the West Racine Corner is friends with the Head of City Development and that they used to work together. Talk about cronism and a good ole boys club. Mayor Dickert being a former Racine realtor, should investigate why we don't give business to our local realtors from Racine.

  36. You dumbasses can't have it both ways. Either the city is trying to put in low income, or they are elitist racists. One does not really fit with the other.

  37. Tim the Shrubber9/05/2009 8:48 PM

    "You dumbasses can't have it both ways."

    Thank you for the Red Forman moment, and could not agree more.

  38. Maybe you should ask Brent Oglesby if he believes that the city is run by elitist racists. He might have some interesting commentary to offer.

  39. all due respect to mr.oglesby but he had neither a SOLID plan of action nor the money to back it. He also was requesting a 18 mo. option on the site. i feel this length of time is a little unreasonable.would you except these terms when selling your property? i wouldn't.
    a little revision in your plan and a backer might help.
    i wish you all the luck

  40. I can't stand the I'm above you attitude that many city officials have. Keep on going that way you guys, it seems to be working miracles.

  41. I can't stand the I'm above you attitude that many city officials have. Keep on going that way you guys, it seems to be working miracles.

  42. He's young and black so that makes him unable to do anything that ABDO Marketplace can do. It has to start somewhere, but I guess it just can't start here in Racine.

  43. Would Mr. Tousis still build his mega-emporium if he was denied a liquor license?

    All we need is another gas station that sells beer and smokes in any part of town.

    Want to impress us? Don't go for the license. Build your empire on other products rather than the meat of other people's addictive habits.

    Be different.

    But, like every other person, you'll do whatever it takes to make money. However you coat it, you're still a business person with your own interests at heart.

    We live in a capitalist society, and even people with good intent have hidden agendas.
    Mr. Tousis will never admit it, but he cares more about making the investment profitable to himself and his family rather than to the community as a whole.
    He's a capitalist. A businessman. They do whatever it takes in the name of the All Mighty Dollar.

  44. Oh, and for people who cry out foul on the 'old family' crowd?

    My family has been in Racine from before Wisconsin was even a State.

    My family is recognised as a Sesquicentennial and Pioneer family.
    (for those who don't know, the first was issued in 1998 for pre-1848 families, and the second is for pre-1851 families. People like the Johnsons can't make that claim)

    I still have to wait in line like everyone else.

    And yes, I'm white.


  45. Since he's posting here, I'll call out the Tousis' on another issue:

    Are you ever going to bother getting more E-85 in your tanks, or did you just put the pump in for the tax credit it gave and decided not to bother with it once it ran out?

    Or would buying more E-85 cut into your profits on cigarettes and liquor?

    More proof to me that he's a slick dealer who looks out for his pocket more than the people he claims to be

  46. Puss N Boots9/06/2009 5:26 PM

    I could care that Mr. T makes money. Now that The City can pick and chose who can do what do we want Slot Machines vs a Farmer's Market.
    Friday I counted in the 90 mins I was there 72 showing up.

  47. Driving 10 minutes to get milk9/06/2009 6:47 PM

    Apparently if you do not bow to the mighty West Racine Alderman you get treated differently than other people do. Why is Jimmy so high and mighty?

    I cannot wait until we finally have a grocery store in the neighborhood again. My alderman should be working on bringing a grocery store to the area not blocking one.

  48. If you think it's really going to be a "grocery store" get real.
    It's going to be a glorified gas station.
    You should already be able to get milk at CVS or down at Lee's Deli.. or are half the people supporting this project too lazy and/or scared to cross Washington or West Blvd?

    I bet it will be cheaper at either of those two locations as well.
    There already was a gas station up the road, and look what happened to that..
    Oops, sorry.. that would have meant that people would have had to cross Lathrop. My bad. That explains why it probably went out of business as well.

  49. Mr. Lovelace9/07/2009 6:34 PM

    The Store TT keeps talking about will be just like a quick trip or the like. If you think that its anything more (do not forget the slot machines) you are wrong, and A) you believed the BS or B) you believed the BS .
    Once its built and you see what you lost West Racine it will be too late.

  50. I like how the same guy keeps posting on here, in multiple names, bashing a plan for a grocery store/restaurant he has never seen. Just because you lie about it does not make it so.

    1. It is a grocery store, just as large as the floor space as the Pig was.

    2. The Farmer's Market will still have a space. Tom has said it will and I am willing to take him at his word. No other project would keep it.

    Frankly, I am shocked at the vitriol crap being spewed by a couple people who have failed to bring anything to that location and their incompetence has kept it a gravel lot for 9 years. I guess when you have nothing to bring to the table, you have to lie.

    I expect more from my elected official and someone getting my tax money from the city for her own pet project. Especially when they post anonymously hoping no one will know who they are.

  51. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  52. Got be nice to work at RCEDC and go to events like this

    How much did this cost

  53. Josh Greene

    Agter equitment ansd slots no way is it as big as a real store. Also why was the last post removed?

  54. Anon 10:49- Take a look at the site plan on a previous post. The floor space for the proposed grocery store and the floor space for Pig are similar.

  55. Posts are removed because this is a blog, not a real newspaper, so it isn't protected by First Amendment rights.

    So a blog manager can remove any comments he/she feels without any remorse.

    In this case, trying to remember what I wrote, I can't remember what I had said, outside of calling out Mr. T for taking a vacation on his profits.

    I guess some people, myself included, forget at times that this is a blog
    and the High Overlords can post/delete whatever they want in the name of what they call "news"

  56. Your comment was deleted because it made specific, unverified, and potentially slanderous, attacks about another business.

  57. Dustin - Thanks for the reasoning, I may have been a little too angry when I posted that original comment.

    It just sickens me to see someone portray themselves as something other than what they show themselves to be, and this is a broad statement to a lot of people in the news today....

    While I'd love to see both the areas in question developed, which part of the post deleted did indeed use a quote from that the definition of "developer" is someone that develops real estate from one state to another, it seems like people with the money would rather it go where they want it to be, rather than where it's needed.
    The old Piggly Wiggly store and it's environs would be a much better match for this plan, providing more parking, and better street access in terms of accident prevention... but that's not good enough, I guess.

    The site that this thread was hijacked from, can, and no doubt here, provide an uplift that is needed in the Uptown area. That people can't see past the area as it is, is also a sad statement on today's society.

    I don't deny that West Racine is in need of a grocery store that provides more than just milk, soda and other basics that are already available at the specialty stores in the area (CVS, Molbeck's, the bakeries, Lee's Deli), once the property becomes private, Mr. T doesn't have to honor any of his promises. Like politicians, businessmen can say whatever they need to, to get their way.

    I don't know Mr. T personally, so I can't know whether or not he speaks the truth. I can only go from what I know, and what I've seen.

    I see an E-85 pump that has remained largely in-operable past the station's open, a pump that provided a tax break for the construction of the station.

    You can draw whatever inference you like from that. I simply see it as a businessman taking advantage of an opportunity in his favor. If Mr. T would like to correct me, he may feel free to do so.

    In Racine, we need to stop new construction and start reusing empty buildings that are eyesores to the community. Mr. T's design for the building is very nice, and will serve as a natural match to some of the older buildings in the neighborhood, but it eats up the Washington side of the street, encroaching on the street itself.
    All while across the street, the shell of an old store crumbles.
    Better to leave the current space the way it is, and build on a site that has more need of beautification than what he is looking at.

    I've ranted enough. Thanks again for the clarification, Dustin.