You may have read in our paper last week about how a developer Scott Fergus proposes to change part of our lakefront. The Racine native wants to build about 250 condos on the former Walker Manufacturing site and other adjacent properties.
If he’s able to carry out his plans for $75 million worth of condos, Fergus won’t be the first in his family to transform a piece of the Racine landscape. For generations the family has been helping to build what is now Racine.
Starting with Fergus’s great-grandfather, William Fergus, the family has built:
n Elmwood Plaza.
n The Rapids Drive Shopping Center.
n The strip mall at Lathrop Avenue and 21st Street.
The family also did the masonryžcement work on many local churches and built numerous single-family homes. In fact, Donna, Diane and Jean avenues and William Streets are named after Scott Fergus’s father, and his sisters.
Condos, part 2
Another developer, Wispark, also has some new plans for Racine’s lakefront. Wispark is the real-estate development subsidiary of Wisconsin Energy Corp., which built Gaslight Pointe.
Gaslight, with its 67 condominiums, isn’t quite finished — yet. Soon, that should change.
Wispark President Jerry Franke said the company will join another company to develop the last piece of land at Gaslight. The approximately 21ž2-acre area lies just north of the Chancery Pub & Restaurant.
"It has one of the greatest views in Racine," Franke said. About 25-30 new condos, probably about 2 1/2 stories tall, will appear there next year. They will complete the construction of Gaslight Pointe.
Asked why Wispark waited until now to finish the13-acre Gaslight Pointe, Franke replied, "We were not going to do it on our own.
"And the properties are not getting any less valuable."
If the Wilson’s Coffee & Tea building was a living thing, it would still have a monstrous headache.
It rained huge building stones late one Friday night a few weeks ago. They went sliding off the church next door at 3300 Washington Ave. and slammed down onto the Wilson’s building next door.
Each stone was about a foot wide, a foot thick and 3 or 4 feet long. Easily heavy enough to squash someone like a bug.
Fortunately, they struck in the best possible area, said Wilson’s owner Robin Wilson: the aluminum siding, which has heavy plywood underneath.
That wasn’t very good luck for Betterway Ministries, which had just bought the church early this year.
Racine Building Inspector Rick Heller — who was called out in the middle of the night when the stones fell — said, "I didn’t think the church was in danger of collapsing. But it’s in pretty tough condition, it needs major tuck-pointing." That’s the main reason the stones slid out of place.
The incident gives new meaning to the question, "One lump or two?"
In general, businesses have been moving into Downtown. However, one long-time Downtown business will be pulling out.
Dick Shore Guy Singer Dance Studio (which originally carried just Shore’s name) is heading to Uptown next year. The current building at 413 Sixth St. is on the market.
Shore’s partner, Singer, bought 1514 Junction Ave., which Shore said started as a rooming house in a factory neighborhood. Singer is rehabbing the building to become the future dance studio sometime next spring.
Shore’s health problems brought on the change. Ascending the stairs from the studio to his apartment above was getting to be too difficult and risky. The new layout will mean he won’t have to.
There are two types of businesses Shore hopes will not open in place of his present studio. One is another art gallery, because he thinks Downtown is saturated with them.
The other is another tavern. Every weekend he hears too much noise caused by saturated patrons leaving the bars.
Troll stalks away
One Ugly Troll, the gaming shop at 1137 Hayes Ave., is relocating. In just a year, the business outgrew its little shop and had to spread its ugly, hairy troll arms a bit.
Owner Steve Essiembre will almost double his space, but he’s staying in West Racine. As of Monday, Ugly Troll will be inside 1206 Grove Ave. That’s actually in the same building, in back, as Upper 90 Soccer Shop.
He’s closed this week except for two last tournaments on Thursday and Friday.
Business reporter Michael Burke can be reached at (262) 631-1716 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org