April 6, 2010

Another twist for proposed new construction in West Racine

As if it needed another twist, the proposed grocery store, restaurant and gas station got one.

The city's Redevelopment Authority is scheduled to take up the project Wednesday and early indications are the committee isn't happy that project is expected to cost less than $5 million to build (how much less is a matter of dispute).

But Tom Tousis, who wants to build on the vacant lot at the corner of Washington Avenue and West Boulevard, is responding to the city with a cryptic agenda item that could further complicate a complicated project.

Tousis sent the city a letter requesting the RDA add an agenda item that reads, "Concerns about the condition of West Racine Redevelopment site (Washington Market site) and liability issues resulting from recent discovery." Tousis' team won't reveal what the "discovery" is until Wednesday's meeting.

It should make for interesting discussion, especially since it was added to the agenda right after the committee takes up Tousis's request for an extension for the West Racine redevelopment project.

The bigger question, though, may be whether the RDA pulls enough members together to hold a meeting. The RDA has canceled its last two meetings due to a lack of quorum.


  1. Tim the Shrubber4/06/2010 10:02 AM

    This should be fun.

  2. The city told him he could not use all the land that he wanted in the first place, so he had to redesign his plans to be smaller. Of course the cost for something smaller will cost less. I think the city is giving this guy the run around and will stop at nothing to make sure he does not build on that land.

  3. Tim the Shrubber4/06/2010 10:18 AM

    "I think the city is giving this guy the run around and will stop at nothing to make sure he does not build on that land."

    Why? That is counter to the city's best interests.

    This seems more like good, old fashioned incompetence than anything else.

  4. Tim

    If so why does Brian O'Connell still have a city job?

  5. To Tim the Shrubber,

    Your comments over lo these many months have demonstrated you are saner than the other 7 bloggers in their basements.

    That said, although it is mere speculation, do you think he is trying to get out of the deal or put it together?

    I'm interested in your thoughts.

  6. Let's hope he's still putting it together and the city gets itself together.

  7. Whom shall be held accountable? That is the question.

  8. Brian O'Connell should be held to account then fired

  9. Tim the Shrubber4/06/2010 1:15 PM

    "That said, although it is mere speculation, do you think he is trying to get out of the deal or put it together?"

    Who, Tousis? I think that is a real unknown and depends on what this new concern is.

    If I had to guess, I suspect that this new concern is something to be used for some leverage over the RDA/city. Something along the lines of 'hey, this property also had problem x, so you should be happy that I am even still intrested in building here.'


    I have been a bit amused by the whole assessed value issue. It is not often that you have a developer/builder/building owner arguing that a property should be assessed at a higher value (an hence taxed more) than the city estimate. Sure, I realize why that is occuring in this context, but not often they we get to witness that.

    Still, I do wonder how money spent on a project translates into assessed value. Just because a project costs $4.2 million to build, is it worth that? The City Assessor (and not Brian O'Connell) said no, that it is only worth $2.8 million. I will admit that I do not know much about commerical property assessments and values, but I do know that cost does not always equal value. So, I cannot wait to hear more from the City Assessor.

    I have to wonder if the city is worried about Tousis claiming the $4.2 million value now, but then once it is built arguing that it is worth substantially less. (Of course, I actually do not think anything bad about Tousis...but he may not be the owner forever and a new owner might argue that it is overvalued.)

  10. Why doesn't the mayor grow a set and get rid of the weak-kneed, grand-standers who are AFRAID to show up to the meetings? They are afraid to make a decision; since they can't do secret voting any more.

  11. "Whom shall be held accountable?"

    Michael, it is Who, not Whom.

  12. I heard that they found Indian bones on the site while they were digging and now the State stepped in.

    I guess old maps show that most of West Racine's business district is build on a prehistoric Indian mound cemetery. I appears Mound Cemetery with its mounds is just the remains
    of a much larger burial ground.

  13. It is worse than that.

  14. Let's see there is a sewer running right through the property. Common sense tells us that they followed a old creek bed or low wetland west. If that's the case all the area near the pipe was back filled. Older folks remember some pretty deep washes before they put sewers or tiles in. With all that flat land in west Racine that water had to go somewhere.

    Knowing the way things were done around Racine years ago it could be filled with foundry sand or just plain household thrash.

    Before our wonderful growing Mt. Thrash-more was started it was a wet land. I remember going there when they were pushing thrash into the cat tails. ah-yes PURE Mt' Pleasant drink water!!!

  15. I think they should plant grass on the whole site and give it to the Tea Party people. It should be called TEA PEOPLE'S PARK. Design will have soap boxes spaced neatly around the grounds. This will allow any knuckle head a place to cry about how terrible life is in the USA.

    I'm saying that because I'm so impressed by the high numbers that turn out to listen to their whining. It's amazing how it sounds like that same old Republican drone.

  16. Duh. Corner lot = underground storage tanks from an old gas station. Looks like someone didn't do their due diligence.

    Just guessing.

  17. That wouldn't surprise me -- there were at least four known gas stations in that three block business area. The smell of gas is nothing new.

  18. And who will pay for the clean up?

  19. Did the city screw up again?

  20. Spangenberg conned the city into buying the buildings and knocking them down. He should pay for it.

  21. 1:15

    Mayor Gary Becker had those buildings knocked down.

  22. Just build the damn thing and let's move on.

  23. and Spangenberg convinced him to knock down the building. Just ask him, it was his idea. I for one am glad we have a gravel pit as the Gateway to West Racine.

  24. So what was the bombshell development?

  25. The environmental study will show the ground is contaminated and can not be used as is. This will cost the City a lot of cash to clean.
    Tom nor anyone else will not build on this site until this is done.
    If looked into prof will come out that City Staff (AKA Brian O'Connell)
    knew about this.

  26. If it is true there is ground contamination, that amazes me. Isn't this something that would have been checked out months ago?

  27. concrete katie4/08/2010 9:11 AM

    you can run but you cannot hide

  28. Tim the Shrubber4/08/2010 12:25 PM

    "If it is true there is ground contamination, that amazes me. Isn't this something that would have been checked out months ago?"

    It depends on how old the problem is...in the past their was not alot of regulation regarding the tanks for gas pumps and the like. It is not uncommon for them to be discovered on a property when there was no public record of them ever being there.

    A while back I heard about an urban road construction project that hit a 100 year old heating oil tank (with oil still in it). Nobody, not the city nor the current owner building to which it belonged knew that it was there.