October 8, 2009
City considering moratorium on development around potential commuter rail station
The city is shutting down development around its potential commuter rail train station until the state makes a final decision on KRM.
That was bad news Wednesday evening for Racine-based developer Brent Oglesby, who was hoping to build a residential and commercial development across from Racine's possible KRM station. He appeared before the city's Redevelopment Authority to request an option to buy RDA-owned on State Street. The response he heard from the RDA: We're not selling.
The authority, which is the legal owner of the land Oglesby was seeking, voted 4-2 against giving him the option he needed to pursue his development. The RDA then voted 4-2 to "receive and file" Oglesby's proposal, which essentially means it's dead.
Pete Karas and Scott Terry voted in support of Oglesby. John Crimmings, Jim Spangenberg, David Lange and Robert Ledvina voted against.
John Crimmings, chairman of the RDA, said the authority literally wasn't selling the land. It had no broker for the property, did not issue a request for proposal and had done no research in recent years on the land's value. Instead, the RDA planned to hold the property until KRM is sorted out, one way or another, on the state level.
Crimmings and others intimated they would also seek a 12-month moratorium on development around State Street's Racine Transit Center, which is the potential home for a commuter rail stop. It was actually motioned to vote on the moratorium Wednesday night, but Karas noted the idea wasn't on the meeting agenda. The RDA will likely take up the issue in November.
The moratorium was needed to prevent a flood of developers (like Oglesby) from trying to buy up land around the commuter rail station, Crimmings said.
Karas responded by asking if the city was really concerned a flood of developers would descend on Racine. The comment drew a laugh from the audience, but gained no traction for Oglesby's project.
The RDA's vote is the end of the road, at least for now, of Oglesby's $6.6 million project, which included a statue honoring Corinne Owens, Racine's legendary civil rights activist. While Oglesby's project is done, for now, Mayor John Dickert announced this week no matter what is built on State Street it will include a section honoring Owens.