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