City Prepared to Give $50,000 for Former Ace Renovation

Sturgeon Bay’s Finance/Purchasing and Building Committee recommended Oct. 10 that a financial incentive of up to $50,000 be provided for the renovation of the former Door County Ace Hardware building at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Jefferson Street in Tax Increment District (TID) #8.

The building is currently being renovated to create entrance doors toward 3rd Avenue, and to divide the building into three tenant spaces, with each space having accessible entrances and a new accessible ramp. The exterior is also being altered to add new windows and cement-board siding.

Community development director Marty Olejniczak said the building’s owner, Amy Austad Labott, requested funding for the facade improvements.

“We had kind of discussed that with the property owner beforehand and discussed it with the Plan Commission and [Common] Council, and everybody thought it would be a good idea to use some TIF [tax incremental financing] dollars to improve the facade if they would agree to renovate the interior and create multiple tenant spaces,” he said.

The facade improvements, which previously received approval from the city’s Aesthetic Design and Site Plan Review Board, include removal of the stone and overhang in the front of the building along 3rd Avenue and replacing that with a design that resembles how the building looked in 1941.

With the amount of assistance not exceeding 10% of the total cost of interior and exterior renovations, Olejniczak said the maximum incentive for the project would be $50,000, based on at least $500,000 worth of building renovations.

“According to Amy Austad Labott, the estimate is already a little bit more than $500,000,” he said. “[The $50,000 financial incentive] kind of fits what they’re proposing as well.”

Olejniczak said the incentive money wouldn’t be paid until after an occupancy permit is issued for the building. 

The parameters recommended by the committee for inclusion in a development agreement that’s being written for the project include a minimum assessed property value for 10 years of $1,043,500, which is $250,000 more than the current assessed value, beginning with the first tax year following completion of the project.

The former Door County Ace Hardware building is one of three properties in TID #8 that was created this year. The property located across Jefferson Street is also in the district and being developed by Shirley Weese Young as a music venue and school known as Muse, with a development agreement she has with the city that will pay her $900,000 in incentives over 15 years.

Given the city’s commitment to investing in the development of 3rd Avenue, city administrator Josh Van Lieshout said he doesn’t expect the former Door County Ace Hardware building will be vacant for very long after it’s renovated.

“It seems like this is a good one to approve [with financial incentives],” he said.

Olejniczak said a development agreement will be put together for the former Door County Ace Hardware to receive final approval by the Common Council in November.

Door County Ace Hardware last year moved into a new building on Egg Harbor Road in the city’s TID #6. The company did not receive any incentive money for that move, but did buy the land from the city on Egg Harbor Road at a reduced cost – $10,000 an acre instead of $30,000 an acre – for agreeing to certain stipulations, such as adding jobs, according to Olejniczak.

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