Local businessman Tom Tousis submitted plans to the city Friday to build a grocery store, restaurant, bank and gas station in West Racine.
Tousis's proposal for the corner of Washington Avenue and West Boulevard differs from the one he talked about in July. He eliminated a proposed car wash and expanded the grocery store to 10,300-square-feet of retail space. (Initial plans called for 6,500-square-feet in retail space.)
He kept the 165-seat diner called "Gus's Diner," a small bank and a gas station. The proposal also would preserve the West Racine Farmer's Market.
Tousis said Friday he expanded the grocery store in response to critics, including Alderman Aron Wisneski, concerned he wanted to open a gas station with a convenience store. Adding 3,500-square-feet to the grocery store, which will include produce and a meat department, clearly elevates the project above a convenience store, Tousis said.
Wisneski confirmed he did raise concerns about the car wash when Tousis first made the project public, but said he still needs to review the official proposal to decide if he'll support it. At a glance, Wisneski said, the grocery store and restaurant appear to be two items West Racine residents have wanted for several years. But city officials need review the details to see if the proposal holds up to scrutiny.
"Tom's plan, just like any other development, will sink or swim on its merits," Wisneski said.
Along with submitting plans Friday, Tousis also announced he would use all union labor on the $5 million project.
Tom Reiherzer, of the Tri-County Contractors Association and the Southeastern Wisconsin Building & Construction Trades Council, confirmed Tousis signed a project labor agreement on the project, which would lock him into using all union contractors.
"He wants union workers from Racine first," Reiherzer said, "and he'll expand to Kenosha if he has too."
Wes Gable, president of Teamsters Local 43, said the project would bring needed jobs to the local unions. He estimated 20 percent of union workers in Racine are out of work.
"I sit on a council with 14 different (building) trades," Gable said. "They all have guys on the bench, looking for work."