October 26, 2009

City rehabs Uptown building; Dickert: Artists are good for Uptown, jobs are better

City officials gave a tour last week of the Uptown building rehabbed by Racine's Redevelopment Authority.

The building at 1526 Washington Ave. was gutted and remodeled into usable space, though it's still lacking bathrooms, plumbing, electrical conduits and heating ducts. The idea was to convert the tattered 4,600-square-foot building into a blank canvas for someone to move into and design how they'd like.

The interior is impressive. The first and second stories feature huge street front windows and wide open spaces.

The building is on the market for $400,000, or $200,000 for the first or second floor. One buyer out of Chicago is interested in the space, though they need to sell their building first, which is no guarantee in the current market. The RDA bought the building in 2007 for $128,000.

The building cost about $604,000 to renovate and the project's total cost was about $800,000.

The city is now preparing to market the property. The hope is still to attract an artist or artists to the building as part of the "Create Uptown" district started by former Mayor Gary Becker.

Mayor John Dickert said Friday he was open to bringing in any type of business to Uptown, adding he was more interested in jobs than artists.

Here's a few more pictures from the tour:

City Development Director Brian O'Connell talks about the building.

Jody Karls looks out the window. He's standing next to John Crimmings, chair of the RDA.

It's all yours for $200,000.


  1. GET OFF THIS ARTIST RELOCATION CRAP! The world has evolved since then people! Get Helding in there to mow down the old, decrepid buildings!!!!!! Wait, any chance of a flood there? THEN, we could start fresh.......

  2. LoL @ $800k in and $400k out, less mechanicals which are probably atleast another 100k a unit. NICE.

    Junk it down.

  3. Wow what a deal !! $128,000 to buy $800,000 put into it SO FAR,( not done yet) and we are going to sell it for what?? $200,000. The city should NOT,NOT be in this business !! City development MUST be fired !!

  4. HUMMMM What kind of Artists did Mr. Becker have in mind? (please don't answer!) Who came up with the idea we need an Artist District anyway? Clean it up like West Racine if that's at all possible!?

  5. Alas. we have too much art and not enough heart in Racine, Back in the Dirty Thirties, a certain corporate crime family succumbed to Frank Lloyd Wright's notion that aesthetics trumped ethics. Ever since then, an arrogant tribe has misused its inherited pelf to force its warped priorities down the throats of our rank-and-file residents. I'm delighted to see that Mayor Dickert is standing up to the haughty House of Wax.

  6. I wonder if from that vantage point Jody Karls can see Racine's turn of the century streetcar network ?
    Running uptown, downtown, west Racine on Washington with its vast overhead power wire network and track switch @ Junction Ave.

    Perhaps he can smell the smoke roll from the coal fired ALCO's pulling Pullman heavyweight coaches full of people 2 blocks to the east?

  7. Isn't this Crimmings guy the same Knob that wanted to speculate on the State St. properties with his buddy Dickert? Seems to me that these morons really F'd this up $800k into a building that is worth $400k. I am no realestate god but I am pretty sure that at the rate realestate values go up in Racine, if we held the property for another 80 years we might break even! Why do people like this Crimmings idiot get appointed to commitees that they are not qualified to be on?

  8. How does O'Connel still have a job?

  9. LoL it is definitely not geared for up and coming artists. The house of wax is going to run this burg into the ground. Then they can re-build the whole inner racine over again. I can see it now prairie homes, with streams running underneath them. Re-name racine ..greencine......with snapping turtle crossing signs. Coyote ribs anyone?

  10. Alas, the elitist Waxtrash agenda calls for remaking this burg into an arty clone of Taliesen. Read "The Fellowship" and you'll see what Frank Lloyd Wright's little cult center was like: a tarted-up cesspool of immorality and snobbery masquerading as a model community.

  11. All of these anti-Johnson anti-racine comments are coming from one over educated person who is pissed because they have 10 degrees and no job.

  12. We have homes and business sites selling for 25-50% less then assessed value, and John O'Connell thinks someone is going to buy a building in crime ridden Uptown?

    As others of asked before me between this and the other 9 BID's that are going south why does John O'Connell still have a job?

    As well why does The Mayor wand the TIF/Bid to continue for the old Walker site? Anything to do perhaps with a new try at a "Point Blue" ? Who was behind that ....?

  13. "As others of asked before me between this and the other 9 BID's that are going south why does John O'Connell still have a job?"

    More than likely, it is because no one named John O'Connell works for the city. We are supposed to take you seriously when it comes to complex issues dealing with $Millions, but you don't even know the name of the person you are criticizing?

  14. All you Rush Limbaugh types are perfect examples of what he calls the "Drive By Media". You cruise by, casually look around, make a snap judgement, and take an intellectual dump and then move on to the next shiny object that catches your eye before the pile has stopped steaming.

  15. Dear 7:52 A.M., Don't you wish that all these comments were the work of one man! No, there are many of us who have sworn to bring down the oligarchs through legal and non-violent methods exclusively. We totally condemn vigilante tactics. Instead, we organise to elect a people's government which will manage America's wealth for the benefit of all our citizens.

  16. My bad, sorry. Long night

  17. 8:34

    How dare we attack any project that enriches in the Uptown only one person I can think of, or attack the other BID's/TIFS that do the City little good. Yet we rush into having more of them.
    The Mayor said 9 out of the group are failing yet he wants another in an area that failed before. (Walker)
    The same man who in a time of economic melt down wants to spend big money for a splash pad. My understanding is he is not even going to cut his travel budget yet many of us can not afford to travel at all.

    God lets hope that someone runs to stop Dickert from spending us into being the next Detroit.

  18. The minute O'Connell walked into that building the value dropped 40%. Maybe Racine can pay someone to take it. It is not like the taxpayers are going to mind.

  19. “Mayor John Dickert said Friday he was open to bringing in any type of business to Uptown…”

    Tell that to the Chun’s and the biased shop owners along 6th Street.

    Why even consider bringing artists to downtown? Who’s left in this city to purchase the stuff? Get some real businesses in these buildings, like service companies, or high-tech and IT firms, or, hey how about this John, maybe some more bars! You city politicians think you’re so high-brow, when you’re just being stupid. Painting buildings, prettying up parks and building traffic circles isn’t what’s going to bring businesses to this town! Back off on the over-regulation, offer some serious tax breaks, get a handle on crime and get the schools back to teaching what they’re supposed to be teaching with requirements in order to pass the classes and maybe some outside interest might be taken seriously by investors and companies looking to relocate or expand. Keep going the way you’re going and you’ll kill this city.

    And wake up to the fact that real estate investment is NOT a part of the city’s job. You were voted in to govern, not go into direct competition with real estate investors! This is a perfect example of why the city should not be involved in this:

    “…the project's total cost was about $800,000.” Then, “The building is on the market for $400,000.” City council, John, that is a 50% loss already and the building isn’t even finished yet! Get your heads out of each other’s butts and wake up to the fact that YOU ARE NOT IN BUSINESS for the city, you were elected to GOVERN it! And if this is your idea of governing, then the day before the next election take a good long LAST look at your offices.

    Anon 8:34, cowardly hiding behind the “Anon” mask, what a stupid, stupid statement. We are reacting to the content of this article. You don’t have to be a Rush fan to understand that a 50% loss (or more) is not a good thing for the city or a proper business tactic.

    Anon 9:12, if we’re lucky enough, maybe Keith or Jody will run.

  20. Graham -
    Maybe you should run for office! I'd vote for you

  21. Jody runs her campaigns on CNH time.

  22. Graham,
    You can not be anymore correct!

  23. Graham: How wonderful life would be if your utopia were true....however, although the previous blogger seems to think you would be a great elected official, you would soon find that you have no control over most of these things when you are elected to a certain office. For instance, the mayor and other city officials have no control over school assessments/standards. So your comment: "get the schools back to teaching what they’re supposed to be teaching with requirements in order to pass the classes" shows your ignorance. Sure, run for some city position and see how much say you have in what the schools teach. Even the teachers themselves have very limited input on the requirements.
    Furthermore, "offer(ing) some serious tax breaks" when the state already cut millions of dollars of city and county money, would result in cuts to garbage pick up, police enforcement, fire personnel, snow removal, etc etc, leading to more crime and housing depreciation, which would cause people like you to rant about how our elected officials are not "governing" the city properly.
    Finally, your comment that government should "get a handle on crime" - how do you propose doing that? If the housing and building situation is ignored - because according to you, taking care of buildings/real estate is not part of government's job either - then guess where the gangs and drug dealers hang out, and guess what happens to the value of the neighboring buildings (look at Jacato Drive, for instance)
    Your comments show a great deal of ignorance as to how the problems you want solved actually get solved.

  24. Let's buy another "red thing" to celebrate this building opening and taxpayers losing $400,000+ on the deal! Woohoo!

  25. Dear 10/28/2009, 9:12 A.M. , We're already worse than Detroit. I just returned from a trip to their Institute of Fine Art. If Motown folks could see our town, they'd beg the Lord to keep Detroit from becoming the next Racine!

  26. I like how the City can afford to spend so much on the Uptown boondoggle for the benefit of IMHO just the major building owner in the area
    However when groups come to the City with projects that would cost the City nothing the answer is NO!

    Truly sad are the Rino's who are becoming lap dogs for the Mayor. Looks like the new boss is same as the old boss.

  27. Lakeside, you got it wrong. First, I never said the mayor or city council had any control over the school curriculum, but that doesn't mean they don't have any influence. The education of our local children was taken out of the hands of city government long ago. My statement was a general one. I think what our children are taught in our local schools should be up to the parents of those children, not some liberal or conservative council or board at the state or federal level.

    If you think offering tax incentives to businesses to come to Racine is going to cost the taxpayer money or that public services are going to suffer, you are profoundly mistaken. Businesses coming to Racine will employ people, thus expanding the tax base. DUH!

    Let's examine your third statement about crime. When was the last time you read in the paper about anything the city police did on their own that even made a dent in crime? I never have. It's always the local police “in conjunction with the Sheriff's Office, State Police, F.B.I. and A.T.F.” I have called the police after video taping drug deals taking place out the front window of an apartment building. I was told that they were too busy to deal with drug sales and that I should call the Special Investigations Unit. When I did, they told me that they knew the person I was citing and then gave me her probation officer's name and number and told me to call him. When I did, he wouldn't believe me and was not interested in viewing the video! What kind of law enforcement is that? Also, since Dickert has filled the mayors chair, I haven't heard him utter one little bit about doing anything about crime in the city. All I hear from him is real estate deal after real estate deal. By God it's time to crack down and declare war on the drug dealers and gangs in this city!