Jim Spangenberg, Nicole Loop, Brian O'Connell, John Crimmings and Jean Wolfgang
at Wednesday's RDA meeting.
Developer Tom Tousis has until Monday at 4:30 p.m. to pay the city $5,000 or he'll lose an option on the West Racine site where he intends to build a grocery store, restaurant and gas station.
The city's Redevelopment Authority voted 3-2 to set the Monday deadline after Tousis missed a Jan. 16 deadline to make the payment. Tousis withheld payment after discovering a pipe on the property, located at Washington Avenue and West Boulevard, ran through the middle of his proposed building.
The standoff is based around the complicated, and distrustful, relationship between Tousis and city officials. Tousis claims the city has worked against his project, most recently, by not telling him about a stormwater pipe that runs through the property.
On the flip side, city officials are mystified by Tousis' unwillingness to meet deadlines and follow through on a development he's spent $30,000 on to this point.
Assistant City Attorney Nicole Loop said, legally, Tousis is in breach of contract for failing to pay the $5,000 on time.
"I'm at a loss of where this is coming from," she said.
"If he'd set out to complicate a matter, he couldn't have done a better job," O'Connell added about Tousis.
But the RDA was unwilling to kill Tousis' project Wednesday. Alderman Jim Spangenberg, an outspoken opponent of the proposal, moved to end Tousis' option on the land, but the motion died because no one else seconded the motion.
Cory Mason, a member of the RDA, then sifted through the issue and came up with a proposal to give Tousis until Monday to pay. Spangenberg then moved to set the deadline until Friday, but his amendment was defeated 3-2. The Monday deadline then passed 3-2, with RDA Chairman John Crimmings, Mason and Scott Terry voting in favor. Spangenberg and Robert Ledvina voted against the proposal.
It's unclear what Tousis will do next. He's deposited $5,000 with Landmark Title with the intention of releasing the money to the city when he gets a reliable survey on the West Racine site.
But the RDA made it clear Wednesday Tousis needs to pay the money directly to the city. If he doesn't, the option is dead and the project won't move forward.
"I really don't think he's going to come with the money," Spangenberg said. "I think he's afraid he's going to lose the money."
Karen Sorensen (left), who represented Tousis at the meeting, said the project is at a standstill until the city presents them with a survey showing all easements on the site.
"We never dreamed there was information that we didn't know," she told the RDA.