Groundbreaking expected in October
The Sturgeon Bay Common Council has approved a revised development agreement and a donation agreement for the Sturgeon Bay Terrace project near the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge on the city’s West Waterfront.
Peter and Jennifer Gentry of WWP Development initially received approval from the Aesthetic Design and Site Plan Review Board in July 2021 for a three-story, mixed-use building with a deli, beer taproom, event space and Airbnb rental suite.
Then last month, the board approved revised plans, which reduced the building to two stories and eliminated the rental suite on top.
Community development director Marty Olejniczak said during the council’s Aug. 16 meeting, where the agreements were approved, that another issue for the site involved additional environmental testing, which found “the levels of methane were higher than what we had seen. That necessitated a detailed methane-mitigation plan that had to go through the [Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources],” he said.
Olejniczak said WWP Development hired a consultant for the plan, which the DNR approved.
“The long and short of it is, we’re back about a year later with a new development agreement,” he said. “It more or less is the same as the previous development agreement. I think there’s a few minor tweaks that the city attorney and the attorney for WWP agreed upon, but it does increase the maximum financial incentive available to the developer from [$625,000] in the prior agreement to [$685,000] in this new agreement.”
Olejniczak said the actual amount of the tax increment financing incentive the developer would receive is based on the value of the new construction, for which the incentive would be reduced if the assessed value of the project is lower than the planned $2.4 million.
“If it comes in less, the developer doesn’t get as much incentive from the city,” he said. “[The revised agreement] just increases the cap amount that the city’s willing to invest in this property through the tax increment financing.”
Olejniczak said the donation agreement relates to the limited buildable space on the site because of an easement where American Transmission Company (ATC) routed a high-voltage underground power line in the area.
“One interesting thing about this project – because of, again, the tight site – the developer wanted to put some outdoor amenities in the public space that surrounds his building,” he said. “This would be outdoor seating, fire pits, things of this nature. The city agreed to that, but wanted a donation agreement, so the developer’s responsible for creating those amenities, installing those amenities and actually maintaining those amenities in the future.”
City Attorney Jim Kalny said the city will allow WWP Development the use of some city property, based on the developer donating those “hardscape” amenities to the city.
“That’s one thing that’s a little unusual,” he said. “Another thing is that in order for them to use that [property], we’re going to need to address the issue of permitting the consumption of intoxicating beverages in the park.”
District 3 Alder Dan Williams said the area where the project is being built is located within the city’s entertainment district, where the consumption of alcohol would be allowed.
Peter Gentry informed the council that the timeline for building the project calls for breaking ground in October and then opening the facility by the middle of May 2023.
“It’s pretty doable at this point in time,” he said.
After Peter Gentry mentioned that the business hours would be no later than 11 pm, the council favored including a provision to allow alcohol consumption outside the business until that time – an extension from the existing 10 pm.
“We don’t need it past 11, but 11 would be appreciated and helpful,” Gentry said. “We frankly don’t intend to be open that late often, but Fourth of July, for instance, it would be great to have.”
Building Footprint Shift
Because ATC routed the power line in a different area than where the city agreed to an easement for it, the site plan board last month approved shifting the building’s footprint to accommodate the line and its related easement where construction wouldn’t be allowed.
After the common council met in closed session Aug. 2 about the line’s location, Mayor David Ward said the council agreed to have staff and Kalny contact ATC to inform the company about the error in where the line was placed.
Despite the line’s location, Olejniczak said the building can still be constructed on the site.
“We are working with Mr. Gentry and ATC regarding those impacts and some type of presumed financial compensation, because it does add costs,” he said.