City Looking at Three Granary Proposals

The City of Sturgeon Bay received three proposals for the purchase and development of the old grain elevator as part of the westside redevelopment project.

The request for proposals ended at 2 pm on July 20, and the members of the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority (WRA) met 30 minutes after the deadline to announce the acceptance of the three proposals.

“We had hoped to pin down the process,” said Community Development Director Marty Olejniczak. “We knew we weren’t going to select anybody, but we had hoped to say, here’s what we’re going to do, schedule presentations, questions and answers, follow it up with a meeting to debate the merits. They didn’t get that far. They just said, we’re meeting again next Tuesday.”

The only local proposal came from Dan Collins and Laurel Hauser, who wrote in a cover letter to their proposal that they “may assign interest in this project to a yet-to-be-formed entity, Sawyer Granary, Inc., which may apply for nonprofit status.”

They hired The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc. of Cedarburg, Wis., to provide renderings of their vision of the granary project. In their 36-page proposal, Collins and Hauser say, “Historic preservation of this building is a central component of our proposal for the development of this site.” They point out that the granary, built in 1901, is the last extant granary in Sturgeon Bay, and that it meets eligibility requirements to be listed in the State and National Register of Historic Places as being “locally significant to the history of agriculture and commerce of the region.”

The pair say that since the granary was built on a filled dock, it is within the Ordinary High Water Mark “and therefore owned by the people of Wisconsin. All future use must comply with Wisconsin’s Public Trust Doctrine.”

Their phased plan focuses first on stabilizing the structure and opening the first floor as a sort of pavilion to hold events.

Phase 2 would concentrate on converting the upper floors for “private and shared working spaces” that could be “rented out at attractive rates and run as an incubator for ‘intellectual’ businesses.”

Funding for Phase 1 – which would cost $442,654 – is proposed as 40 percent from the city, 40 percent from grants, and 20 percent from private donations.

Olejniczak said the second proposal came from Ryan Schabach, an employee of Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee. He, too, suggested a phased plan for the granary, beginning with a brewery and tap room on the first floor.

“The interesting thing about his proposal, he wants to reactivate some of the granary, using some of the bins to store grain for making the beer he would serve. I thought that was kind of interesting,” Olejniczak said.

The third and most intensive proposal came from the combined team of Titletown Brewery and Smet Construction of Green Bay.

“They want to create a full-fledged brewery and restaurant, similar to what the Pollmans had proposed,” Olejniczak said.

Last November, Robert and Noreen Pollman – owners of Shipwrecked Brew Pub, Door Peninsula Winery, Door County Distillery, Cooper’s Corner restaurant and Fat Louie’s Olive Oil – unveiled plans for a 300-seat brewpub as part of the westside redevelopment project, but later pulled out of the project.

Olejniczak believes the members of the WRA will lay out the process for selection of a project at the July 28 meeting.

“They have lots of options on the table,” he said, adding that the WRA could agree to look at all three proposals, some of them, or reject all three.

“I do anticipate just because there is only three of them, they’ll give all three the opportunity to sway them.”