October 5, 2009

Turner splits with Dickert over State Street development

Update: State Rep. Bob Turner is taking issue with our initial story about the proposed State Street development. Turner said Tuesday morning he strongly supports honoring Corinne Owens but he also strong supports Brent Oglesby's project on State Street.

"I'm in full support of the Owens project," Turner said.

Oglesby wants to build a $6.6 million mixed-use development with market-rate (ie. not subsidized) condos and commercial space at State and Silver streets.

Turner took issue with the suggestion that he supported honoring Owens, but didn't necessarily support Oglesby's project. He said he hasn't met with the mayor and disagreed with Dickert's stance to hold off on development around the potential site of the KRM train station.

Alfonso Gardner, a long-time community activist who fights for jobs, said Oglesby's project is a critical development for Racine's inner city. He was dismayed to hear Mayor Dickert's stance on the project.

"Why is the city and the mayor stopping development in an area that needs work?" Gardner said.

He added: "The mayor is going to wait six years for us to have development in the inner city."

Oglesby is appearing before the Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday in hopes of securing an option to buy land for the mixed-use project. It's unlikely the RDA will grant Oglesbly the option.

Original post ...

There is no State Street project yet, despite wrangling by two potential developers over a two-acre parcel adjacent to the Racine Transit Center, but Mayor John Dickert and State Rep. Bob Turner announced today that -- when there is, whatever it is -- it will memorialize Corinne Owens.

But the when, according to Dickert, now hinges on commuter rail.

“Corinne Owens is a part of Racine’s history and she will be honored for her efforts,” Mayor Dickert said. “While there are no current plans for developing the site by the city, any future project will include a tribute to Ms. Owens.”

“Corinne Owens has been a leader and a mentor for African Americans throughout the greater Racine community for decades,” said Turner. “She is a champion for civil rights and a symbol of strength and perseverance.”

In recent months, two developers -- first, Damon Dorsey of Milwaukee and then Brent Oglesby of Racine -- requested access to the site to build Corinne Owens Square. Dorsey offered a mixed-use project with 25 apartments, 14 townhouses and 3,000 sq. ft. of commercial space. Oglesby tried unsuccessfully to take over Dorsey's option in September -- he lost a 5-2 vote by the Redevelopment Authority. A final decision on whether to grant him an option on the site was expected this month.

But the mayor's office said today the city has decided to hold on to all city-owned land around the train station until a decision has been made on commuter rail.

“I have known Corinne Owens for many years and have always been impressed by her unwavering commitment to justice. Her fight for civil rights and equality has left an indelible mark on Racine’s history,” said Dickert. “She is most deserving of a lasting memorial in our city for all of her outstanding contributions on behalf of civil rights since she became a citizen of Racine in the early 1950’s.”

Owens, honored by Racine County Democrats in March with the Phyllis Dresen Spirit of Democracy Award, rose from a janitor's position, when she was refused a teaching job because of her race, to become chair of the Gateway Technical College Board, president of the NAACP, and a leader in the effort to pass the Fair Housing Act


  1. The Mayor or Racine doesn't know what he's doing.

  2. Uhm...a black developer from Racine (Mr. Olgesby) is trying to develop a project in the name of Ms. Owens - that seems like the perfect way to honor Ms. Owens to me.

  3. Corinne Owens deserves something in her honor that is done right. You don't want any old housing project that will turn into something undesirable down the road. For instance, they named Cabrini Green after Francis Cabrini, but now the name is associated only with the crime ridden ghetto housing.

    We can't let that happen to Corinne's name - so I'm glad the city is taking its time and not jumping at the first opportunity. Whether the developer is black or not, makes no difference. Do we know if the developer of Cabrini Green was black? Would it make any difference now?

  4. Yes naming housing projects after people almost always ends badly.
    Robert Taylor anyone ?
    No matter no mind I guess and in anytown U.S.A. you can buy drugs on MLK Jr. Drive so go figure.

  5. I see he's linking yet another project to a rails system. Maybe he hasn't heard about the Chicago system talking cuts and price increased AGAIN! And that is a large city that actually uses a rail system.

  6. Would not Brent Oglesby developing a business with City Land etc be a conflict of interest?
    Wait and do we not have a Realtor as the chairman of the redevelopment board?
    Do they at least have to sign an ethics statement?

  7. Excuse me 11:17 what exactly are you talking about. Or did the Vikings make you cranky.

  8. Brent K. Oglesby10/06/2009 3:08 PM

    Thank you for making the correction

  9. I had no idea how hot a topic this was, but i read about it on the Insider News' site and OUCH! They really let the mayor have it...... check it out if you can. It's almost too hot for print!! LOL! =)

  10. BTW - www.racineinsider.blogspot.com......if you dare ;-)

  11. Racine has enough housing stock I agree with the mayor and leaving it empty for now. Its nice grass there too.

    Maybe Brent can develop the abandoned and junked up danish old folks home site.

    Pros for my proposed site: On Mlk Jr Drive (undeniably a name honor), a block from a Mlk Jr. statue, across the way from another name honor school and the location is not an island.
    Cons: have to remove some tree and do some grading.
    The lot sizes are the same and the places are about 3 blocks apart.

    Do it right Brent, maybe someday someone will give your name an honor or statue.

  12. This sounded like a good project. The mayor's decision is difficult to understand.

  13. Doesn't Owens already have a C.O.P. house named in her honor??

    By the way, I think Dickert is a dumb ***.

  14. Confusion continues as the stimulas money isn't firm yet. The governor thinks we are getting a high speed bullit train and already bought the train, SEWRPC doesn't know if they are on foot or horseback, some jokers keep pushing the KRM and we have an 8 lane interstate already under construction. The locals like condos, because they expand the tax base, bringing in more cash to run the corruption.

  15. KRM is a farce.......REALLY? Who really will ride a train to Kenosha? I mean c'mon I'll drive my car with three of my friends to Kenosha on the new freeway system! This is so stupid to think KRM would sustain itself! How will people get around from the train stations, walk? and yes everything the mayor says is hard to understand because he is in WAY over his head!

  16. Corinne Owens deserves something in her honor that is done right. You don't want any old housing project that will turn into something undesirable down the road. For instance, they named Cabrini Green after Francis Cabrini, but now the name is associated only with the crime ridden ghetto housing.

    We can't let that happen to Corinne's name - so I'm glad the city is taking its time and not jumping at the first opportunity.

  17. Anon 5:21 - have you bothered to ride a train lately? They are ALWAYS PACKED, whether you get on the Metra or the Amtrak from Racine.

    I understand the issues regarding funding the train, however, please stop the ignorant comments about people not using the train. They do.

    The interstate costs taxpayers money too, it does not generate money, yet we don't complain about that for some reason. Why is that exactly?

  18. The Metra has a few riders who live in lower tax Kenosha and work at Abbott, which is the first stop going south, after that ridership is sparce. The Amtrak operates at a deficit every year!

  19. KRM is ridiculous, we are not a large community with 2 two million workers looking for a way to get to work. We are a small city of 100,000 who can't seem to employ 16.2%.

    I'm not knocking Racine at all,I like it here, but lets be realistic. Why would the train even stop here? So people can visit Ivanhoe, and please don't give me that crap that jobs will come, if that were the case Sturtevant would look like Gurnee.
    (no offense)

  20. CTA must come up with millions once again to keep running and we are to believe KRM will be better?

  21. Someone maybe Dustin can comment to the Mayor being a LIAR!!! Dustin is this news or not. You ccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccoward!!!

  22. Everytime I've ridden the train, on a weekday or weekend it has been full. That was from Kenosha to Chicago, as well as the Amtrak from Sturtevant to Chicago.

    I personally don't know why anyone would NOT want to take the train if their destination is downtown Chicago. You can sit back with your paper and a beer and relax, it's great. The Amtrak is much nicer than METRA but more expensive.

  23. I'm willing to bet that Turner agreed to this in a meeting, but then changed his mind when some local black "leaders" started yelling at him.

    Shame on you Mayor, you can't trust Turner.

  24. I agree with Mayor Dickert on this one. The property in question, because of its proximity to a proposed train station, will increase in value quite significantly if KRM is approved. Allowing Brent Oglesby (or any other person, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, whatever) a "hold" on that property is irresponsible stewardship of taxpayer owned property. Imagine if you the reader owned the property. Would you sit on it and wait a year or so to see if its value increases dramatically, or would you provide someone else the opportunity of a lifetime to reap the profits if it increases in value and to walk if it doesn't? Giving anyone a "hold" on this property would be a corrupt act. I am glad that Mayor Dickert isn't doing that here.

  25. Brent K. Oglesby10/07/2009 8:17 AM

    Denis I appreciate your opinion. I differ opinions with you especially, with the part pertaining to this being a corrupt act. Land options are legal contracts that are entered every day between parties. In most situations the acquiring party is responsible for paying for this option. It is no different that purchasing a home with contingencies attached. For a developer, the option allows us to secure financing, complete environmental studies, lease the property, secure contractors, etc... Real estate development is a long terms play, projects do not become completed overnight. Additionally, if the city wanted to work with me on this project, we could very easily incorporate "profit-sharing" aspects that reflect the appreciation in the land (granted this will most likely be six years out, if even agreed to). Again i appreciate your opinion and i am glad you took a less aggressive stance against me this time.

  26. I agree there should be a construction in the name of Ms. Owens, but I also agree with the mayor this is not the place to do it. There are plenty of open lots in the city - we should not obstruct a potential train plan. People may be against the train plan, but if it is approved - they'd knock down any building which was detremental to it going forward.

  27. Brent, my stance, aggressive or otherwise, is not about you. It would be about anyone getting such a deal with the city. I understand that projects such as yours are lengthy undertakings, but I also understand that the value of the property in question may well change dramatically over the next year or so. So why should the city allow you or anyone else the option to hold the property and wait for the dramatic increase? The increased value should go to the people who own it, that is, the taxpayer. Presently the taxpayer has no assurances that your project would go forward without the KRM induced value increase, so there is no point of offering you a hold on the property. I stand by my view that granting a hold on this property to anyone now would be a corrupt act, though it may pass legal muster. The best idea in my view would be for the city to auction off all excess property to the highest bidder. Since our local government is hopelessly addicted to real estate speculation and other dabbling in what should be the private sector, I don't see that happening. Holding the property for a bit to detirmine its actual value is the next most responsible action in my view.

  28. Since our local government is hopelessly addicted to real estate speculation and other dabbling in what should be the private sector!

    Denis you hit the nail on the head! The mayor is no longer dealing in real estate, but still has his hand in the basket, I guess its in his blood now. I think he should have stayed in real estate. He definately did not recieve my vote, nor will he in the future!

  29. I agree with Mayor Dickert on this one as well. The auctioning of the land should go to the highest bidder. If Mr. O is the highest bidder, he can begin his exploration of development choices; or he could then re-sell it for whatever fair market value he can get. If Mr. O. can't afford to do it now someone else should.
    Creating a special Park in the name of Ms. Owens is a wonderful idea.. but that would be a City Park and not Mr. O.'s development. If Mr. O. buys the land and chooses with his own $$ to dedicate something to Ms. Owens that is his choice. So either sell it now to the highest bidder or sit on it for another 1-3 years and see if the KRM ever happens. I wouldn't count on that!

  30. Some of you speak as though that site really has some value, especially if KRM happens. Racine seems to be constantly waiting for something to happen, and nothing does. What is happening is Racine's Black Male jobless rate is over 60%; this is adds to crime and a boat load of other troubles. it may be time for Racine to get off the pot and start getting something done. Stop looking for excuses to wait.

  31. Dickert is a story telling cheater and has been since he was a kid.