The City Council voted 14-1 Tuesday night to grant Tom Tousis an option on land to build a grocery store with gas pumps in West Racine.
The council's vote finalizes a recommendation from the city's Redevelopment Authority to move Tousis' $5 million project forward. Tousis needed the option because the city owns the land he wants to build on at the corner of Washington Avenue and West Boulevard.
Tousis' plan is to build a grocery store and sit-down restaurant with gas pumps. The council's vote forwards Tousis' project to the city's Access Corridor Review Committee and the Plan Commission for further consideration. The proposal needs to pass both committees and the City Council to win approval.
Tousis' plan also calls for a liquor license, which would require approval from the Public Safety and Licensing Committee.
Tuesday's vote was a long-time coming for Tousis, who has been publicly pushing his controversial project since July. While there's been little opposition to the proposed grocery store or restaurant, the gas pumps have drawn criticism as a bad fit for West Racine.
But Tousis has built support by noting his project would help pay off the tax incremental finance district used to clear the West Racine block, would create new jobs and meet two West Racine needs - a place to buy groceries and a sit-down restaurant.
Alderman Jeff Coe was the only vote against the project. Alderman Jim Spangenberg, an opponent of the project, voted for the option but said it didn't mean he supported Tousis's proposal.
Up next is a more detailed review of what the grocery store, restaurant and gas pumps would look like. A key question will be if the project fits with the city's development plans for West Racine. City committees will take up that issue and make a recommendation to the full City Council in the next few months.