Developer unveils $65 million plan for Machinery Row

2014-06-10T13:30:00Z 2014-06-25T19:37:46Z Developer unveils $65 million plan for Machinery RowMICHAEL BURKE Journal Times

RACINE — A Davenport, Iowa, developer plans to transform a Downtown riverfront area called Machinery Row with a commercial-residential project that will start at $65 million.

Financial District Properties has options to buy a 20-acre swath of riverfront land and undertake a redevelopment it is calling Machinery Row, company executives and City and County officials said Tuesday.

Mayor John Dickert called it the largest redevelopment project in Racine’s history.

The area, north of Water Street and east of Marquette Street, encompasses all of Azarian Marina, 726 Water St., and two large former industrial buildings constructed by J.I. Case Co. between 1908 and 1915. They were later sold to Western Printing and now have two different owners.

FDP was only going to redevelop Machinery Row if it had all three parcels.

Company Chief Financial and Operating Officer Bryce Henderson said the $65 million estimate includes just the site improvements and redeveloping the first building, the larger one.

The project will open access to that entire stretch of riverfront to the public for the first time in about a century, Dickert noted. Azarian Marina will cease to exist.

Executives and said the project is at the conceptual stage with many details yet to be fleshed out.

However, FDP is already preleasing commercial space in the larger of the two buildings and hopes to secure anchor tenants within 30 to 45 days, said Project Manager Jim Bowman of C3 Consultants in Moline, Ill.

FDP expects to start renovating the first building later this year and make occupancy available by winter or spring 2016, Henderson said.

Construction on the second building would wait until the first one is completed.

The larger building, which will be converted to commercial and residential uses in the project’s first phase, is a three-story, 500,000-square-foot structure.

It is now covered by a gray, asbestos-containing material that replaced the original exterior walls. That covering will be removed, and the structure will then be re-covered with an exterior that “pays homage” to the original appearance, FDP founder and managing owner Rodney Blackwell said.

Slightly more than 100 loft apartments are envisioned in the building. FDP says commercial tenants might include a grocery store, restaurant, day care center and high-tech firms.

“It will be mixed use and a destination,” Henderson said. “We don’t want it to be an apartment complex that will stand on its own.”

River corridor plan

FDP’s proposal for Machinery Row conforms with the Root River Corridor Redevelopment Plan called RootWorks. The City adopted it in 2012.

“We built the plan, and now we’re working the plan,” Dickert said. “It’s not sitting on a shelf.”

State Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine is a founding member of the group that formed that plan, starting in 2005. “After nine years of planning and discussion, I’m thrilled to see site control announced on Machinery Row for the first big project of the RootWorks plan,” he stated.

“The Mayor, County Executive (Jim Ladwig) and I have seen firsthand the quality of (Blackwell’s) and FDP’s accomplishments and the track record of their success.”

Root River Council Chairman Monte Osterman said, “How much more excited could we be? We’re starting to see the fruits of so many years of labor, and I can’t say enough about all the people who have been partners along the way.”

During a press conference Tuesday at Azarian Marina, CNH Industrial executive Brad Crews said developing Machinery Row will “enhance the work life of our employees” and help CNH recruit employees. “It will be a wonderful extension of our campus,” he said.

“An awful lot of hard work and sacrifice got us here today,” Ladwig stated, “but make no mistake, there is much more heavy lifting yet to come.


About Financial District Properties

Davenport, Iowa-based FDP has developed more than 100 projects, according to its founder and managing owner, Rodney Blackwell.

According to company literature, FDP develops, manages and operates income-producing real estate. Its investments are diverse and include multifamily, office and retail developments.

FDP has a history of working in partnership with local governments to expand city development efforts and contribute to a municipality’s long-term economic plans

FDP has focused on adaptive reuse historic development including the recent rehabilitation of the Wells Fargo Bank building in Davenport and the Union Arcade building, also in Davenport, which is now under construction.

A joint news release issued Tuesday by the City and developers said FDP is known for “successfully developing complicated and catalytic urban redevelopment projects” through community partnerships and using “complex structured financing solutions.”


Comparative projects

Some other major Downtown redevelopments and their costs when built:

  • Johnson Building, 555 Main St. — $23 million
  • The Harbor at State and Main building, 141 Main St. — $19.7 million
  • Mitchell Wagon Factory loft apartments, 815 Eight St. — $14 million


Historic tax credits

FDP executives said the company is currently in the development phases of:

  • Programming — defining the market and property needs, desires, image and relationships.
  • Schematic design — developing conceptual sketches, physical dimensions, visual materials and preliminary interior and exterior elements.
  • Preleasing key anchor tenants: “The next 90 days will be very exciting,” Blackwell predicted.

FDP executives said their redevelopment will take advantage of Wisconsin’s new law granting tax credits for redeveloping historic buildings. Mason said the buildings will qualify for a 20 percent tax credit for construction costs and a 10 percent federal tax credit.

The project will also involve creating a tax increment district there and take advantage of other available government programs, Dickert said.

Blackwell said he was completely confident FDP can gather the additional investment capital needed.

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(47) Comments

  1. treadlight2
    Report Abuse
    treadlight2 - June 24, 2014 5:25 pm
    They said that public improvements in RootWorks will be gauged by Racine's ability to garner grant funding. This brings our tax money home... the state and federal taxes that you and I pay every day comes back to us in the form of grants from state and federal agencies (USEPA, and others) for great projects like RootWorks! Let's bring it home! The private investment being made in this redevelopment is a great example of free market enterprise and smart public policy- I think they call that ' public-private' partnerships... and it's great news all around. Excited to see Racine's birthplace of manufacturing come back to life and our great river (and city's namesake) celebrated!
  2. Joe Taxpayer
    Report Abuse
    Joe Taxpayer - June 17, 2014 10:11 pm
    "Machinery Row"!? What a dumb name. This whole project has failure written all over it.
  3. Reporter Wayne
    Report Abuse
    Reporter Wayne - June 17, 2014 5:08 pm
    Crack is not good for you. Put down the Crack pipe!
  4. treadlight2
    Report Abuse
    treadlight2 - June 16, 2014 10:00 pm
    Great news for Racine and the Root River! The time has come to reposition Racine as the pearl between the Chicago and Milwaukee metro areas. This redevelopment effort promises to do just that, while creating a Riverwalk, water quality improvements, and a celebration of Racine's unique cultural and industrial history. The reality is that industry has left the U.S.- and it's a pipe dream to think that Racine will be able to single-handedly turn those trends around without some representation from our US Congressmen/Senators (NAFTA?)- our next economic drivers rely on our ability to attract new talent and managerial/finance/IT firms, increase tourism and commuter connections to Milwaukee and Chicago (read:bedroom community), and celebrate the assets we have now- This redevelopment efforts builds off of our strong heritage and I look forward to seeing things move forward- kudos to our city leaders for working on this, and double kudos for the private investors for seeing Racine's potential.
  5. Urban Pioneer
    Report Abuse
    Urban Pioneer - June 15, 2014 1:51 pm
    First thing y'all need to know about downtown rentals and condos; They are almost always full at 98% for most of the rentals at Mitchell, State & Main, Belle Harbour, Arcade and even McMynn. Also the Condos downtown at Gaslight Pointe, state & Main, the Atwater, and Lakeshore towers are all sold. This developer should focus on the middle and upper income customers for these riverfront, condos or Apartments. and they'll be very successful. The problem the Porters project had was getting the bank financing..this group is coming into the project with a record of successes, and the ability to pay most of their way. I 'm not crazy about subsidies and TID, but surely this is a project where it could be very successful. CNH will be tidying up their side of the river. and Pughs will be renovating the boat slip access along the river way as well. This is a more natural extension of downtown than Point Blue was ever gonna be. Point Blue would've just been a drag on both areas. Eventually Walker property and the former Belle Harbor, and the WisCo property will see new projects. Scott Walker's making Wisconsin a place to look for success. in fact it's so desirable investors are willing to invest John Dickerts lefty-ville. Now can we PLEASE finish the 794 freeway down Memorial drive dr and REALLY get things growing in Racine.
  6. Bruce and Donna
    Report Abuse
    Bruce and Donna - June 15, 2014 11:35 am
    New account, only commenting on this topic - you must not have a horse in the race huh?

  7. pleasantman
    Report Abuse
    pleasantman - June 12, 2014 12:42 pm
    Mayor, the developer doesn't even own that property, what if the present owners isn't interested in selling? Even if it for sale, maybe the price just went right through the roof. Maybe in the future, get a few more of your ducks in the row before you take to the street.
  8. salesprof
    Report Abuse
    salesprof - June 12, 2014 10:54 am
    Great comment, couldn't agree more
  9. salesprof
    Report Abuse
    salesprof - June 12, 2014 10:02 am
    I have know Rodney Blackwell for many years, everything he touches turns to gold. Whether its a small business, where I dealt with him personally, or huge real estate deals, it is always done with pride. I love Racine, moving here 3 years ago, the downtown can be the jewel of Lake Michigan just give someone a chance. Drive around on a weekend and see all the out of state plates and then tell me that tourism doesn't help pay the bills. This development will only enhance this trend.
  10. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - June 12, 2014 5:43 am
    Shouldn't The JT make some sort of Disclosure?

    A Bit About Blackwell - As a developer, Blackwell keeps a low profile. "Used to," he corrected.

    In downtown Davenport, he owns the Quad Cities offices of Lee Enterprises. And he's part-owner of Carver Aero aviation company in Davenport. In addition, he purchased the Lee Enterprises plane.

    He must be hanging around with Mary Junck - The Queen of Davenport.

    Building the dream

    Who: Rodney Blackwell, managing principal of Financial District Properties
    Quote: "When I buy something, people say, 'Congratulations.' I think, well, that is not the right thing to say. How about, 'Good luck?' "

    Here comes TID 18! How much more in taxes will be shifted? I can't help but wonder if the reason for the announcement, and the way it was handled is because RUSD wants more $$$, David Hazen must sign off on the TID, and he's tired of losing his tax base.

    NO MORE TID's. Brian O'Connell has already shifted enough taxes, destroyed formerly productive areas of the City, and failed miserably. The only reason why Racine will be a Developers dream is because the City will pay all the costs. How's that been working out for Racine residents? They are all broke and small business is almost all gone. Residents and Businesses who are on the edge better see the light - the window of opportunity to get out and get out whatever is left of your Racine property market value is quickly closing.
  11. bluebagger93
    Report Abuse
    bluebagger93 - June 11, 2014 11:08 pm
    Well, for all of you naysayers, what is your plan? Don't have one? Be quiet then.
  12. kevinsmom68
    Report Abuse
    kevinsmom68 - June 11, 2014 10:26 pm
    " Bono - June 10, 2014 4:21 pm
    Wow. What a bunch of haters.
    I wish the best to all involved in this development.
    I am cautiously optimistic due to past plans that didn't work out, but what would you complainers suggest? Doing nothing?"

    hey, you must not be from around here. this is like the 10th time something like this happened in the last 10 years or so. every time they take tax payer dollars, city staff work on the projects and the developers BOLT.

  13. kevinsmom68
    Report Abuse
    kevinsmom68 - June 11, 2014 10:24 pm
    must be nice to not think and blame the political party you don't like.

  14. kevinsmom68
    Report Abuse
    kevinsmom68 - June 11, 2014 10:23 pm
    Also the ground is contaminated from the various machine shops and factories in that location.
  15. kevinsmom68
    Report Abuse
    kevinsmom68 - June 11, 2014 10:22 pm
    " BBarker - June 10, 2014 4:52 pm
    So easy to criticize behind an alias with no original ideas yourselves."

    that's what former mayor gary becker used to say when he came on here.
    he used an alias when doing pedophile activities online.

    the truth is truth. doesn't matter what name you use.
  16. Reporter Wayne
    Report Abuse
    Reporter Wayne - June 11, 2014 1:55 pm
    Ah yes, Point Blue! Was not our Mayor a Salesman for that?
    Jeff Coe has said there is too much empty Housing in the City now , do we need more?
    Case Company has been leaving Racine a little at a time for years. Soon no manufacturing will be done in Racine .
    In fact The Case P.R. Flack I met came from IL so Case may not be here for long. Wait does not Fiat own Case? They do! So why would they give a hoot when it serves then say so long Case!
    We should all pay attention to what Racine Exposed has written on this subject.
  17. sbs
    Report Abuse
    sbs - June 11, 2014 12:37 pm
    Umm… It would be nice to actually have some details to accompany this story. Clearly, this is a public / private partnership, like so many failed Downtown Racine developments in recent years. (Can you say "State and Main," "Pointe Blue," and so many others?)

    Do we not already have an absolute glut of available office space in Downtown Racine? Who, exactly, ARE these "anchor tenants"? What "grocery store"? What "restaurant"? And, exactly what "commercial partners"?

    Seriously, before we start breaking out the pompons, there are WAY too many questions to be answered. Most pressing: How much of the "$65 million" development are taxpayers on the hook for? And when, exactly, will this proposal be brought before our elected representatives for SOME sort of approval?

    This development proposal REALLY needs a closer look. Incidentally, if the similar Porter's residential / commercial development proposal recently failed so badly that a Historic Landmark will be torn down, reduced to rubble, carted off and transformed to surface-level public parking, why are local leaders so confident that this LARGER proposal - in a more desolate location - will actually come to fruition?

    Remember: "Get Your Piece of Pointe Blue."
  18. PrimeTime69
    Report Abuse
    PrimeTime69 - June 11, 2014 9:54 am
    Why do you think this company wants to build apartments and empty buildings to the tune of $65 Million Dollars, along one of the worst spots along the Root River? BECAUSE YOU WILL BE PAYING FOR IT!!! Ahhhhhhhh can you smell Pointe Blue all over again??? LMAO
  19. Newaccount
    Report Abuse
    Newaccount - June 11, 2014 9:12 am
    I have a feeling this development will look exactly like the development that was to happen at the old Walker site on the lake. When pigs fly!!!!!
  20. jtreader
    Report Abuse
    jtreader - June 11, 2014 9:06 am
    The housing being built now is too expensive for the average citizen.
  21. layedback
    Report Abuse
    layedback - June 11, 2014 8:18 am
    You are so right on.
  22. layedback
    Report Abuse
    layedback - June 11, 2014 8:17 am
  23. layedback
    Report Abuse
    layedback - June 11, 2014 8:16 am
    Right on. take a look at the building occupied by Jimmie John's. still vacant spaces
  24. layedback
    Report Abuse
    layedback - June 11, 2014 8:15 am
    B we agree on so many accounts.
  25. layedback
    Report Abuse
    layedback - June 11, 2014 8:14 am
    What is in your pipe? Have you been eating paing chips?
  26. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - June 11, 2014 7:44 am
    Whose money is being invested?

    Taxpayers, or private funds?
  27. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - June 11, 2014 7:44 am
    Just for the record, because it is clear that RUSD has brainwashed many, this is what REAL productive development and jobs looks like (and it's not more retail, apartments and magical thinking) .

    MEXICO CITY, June 26, 2013 (Reuters) - General Motors Co outlined plans on Wednesday for investing $691 million to expand its Mexican operations, including the previously unannounced expansion of its Toluca engine plant.

    GM's investment will boost employment and development in Silao, San Luis Potosi and Toluca, Hernandez said. GM did not say how many jobs it will add in Mexico, where it employs 15,000 people at four complexes and its headquarters in Mexico City.

    The U.S. automaker builds the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks in Silao; Chevy Sonic and Captiva, and Cadillac SRX vehicles in Ramos Arizpe; and the Chevy Aveo, Trax and Tracker vehicles in San Luis Potosi.

    Read more:

    February 21, 2014: Honda Motor Co. may be based in Japan, but soon 95 percent of the cars it sells in North America will be built in the region.

    On Friday, Honda opened an $800 million factory in Celaya, Mexico — its seventh auto- assembly plant in North America — where it will build Fit hatchbacks and a new small SUV. The plant will eventually make 200,000 cars a year and employ 3,200 workers. A $470 million transmission factory now under construction at the same site will provide jobs for another 1,500 Mexicans. The expansion will bring Honda’s North American manufacturing capacity to 1.92 million vehicles a year.

    JT challenge - to ask Jim and John why these plants aren't being built in Racine County, WI. Why Racine County development is always dependent upon taxpayer subsidies? How they think that more retail and housing is the answer to long term unemployment? One failure is supplanted by another. When do the taxpayers see the relief that is promised from these developments?

    I won't hold my breath.

  28. john ellgas
    Report Abuse
    john ellgas - June 11, 2014 7:15 am
    Like I said in an earlier post about this story...put a minor league stadium in the area west of Marquette St. and watch them come. Grocery store, boutique stores, restaurants, a club or two and wow that area will fly. The riverfront was a good move and will compliment downtown. Its beautiful down there, just need vision to see it well. That whole bowl can become something amazing along the lines of the river walk in San Antonio. Better figure out parking first because its going to be big!
  29. MrWisco
    Report Abuse
    MrWisco - June 11, 2014 12:39 am
    Meanwhile, half the lakefront properties that advertise meeting these same needs remain vacant, and have been for several years.
  30. clear view rochester
    Report Abuse
    clear view rochester - June 10, 2014 11:47 pm
    Wow, How sad it is to read such doom and gloom from those on the sides. As a Racine taxpayer of several properties, I applaud any concept that could lead to more development.
    Racine needs more people with vision and hope. How many of you remember when Kenosha was called Keno- where. Well times have changed and its time for Racine to get back to its former greatness. It won't happen all at once, but please don't drag down the efforts of those who try to bring about change for the better. The easiest thing to do is find fault. Put your efforts toward finding solutions, make a difference in your community. Your positive actions will speak louder than your negative comments.
  31. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - June 10, 2014 9:58 pm
    I'm sure if Walker was onsite and mugging for the camera you cynics would be all for this. Next.
  32. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - June 10, 2014 9:56 pm
    Wow you're a happy one aren't you.
  33. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - June 10, 2014 9:56 pm
    @ggdmuls - Racine's biggest economic problems are caused by Reaganomics. Wake up.
  34. Jeff Warg
    Report Abuse
    Jeff Warg - June 10, 2014 9:40 pm
    The city has put the cart before the horse on this deal. The interstate access to the city is from the 1960's. This plan does nothing to address that.

    With only two full-size grocery stores within city limits, we could sure use more grocery stores. How much demand will there be for the other elements of this proposal? Signed tenant contracts will speak volumes.
  35. Unreal Racine
    Report Abuse
    Unreal Racine - June 10, 2014 8:32 pm
    The Project Manager says it will be a mixture of both private and public funding.

    The key question here is HOW MUCH PUBLIC MONEY IS INVOLVED?

    Did they just copy the name from a development in Madison, or were they not aware of that?

    Who is lining up at the doors in downtrodden Racine to pay top dollar for riverfront space in a city where we have Lake Michigan and vacancies all over the city available for next to nothing?

    Were there any payoffs and backroom deals tied to this, such as ramrodding a shady deal to give the Mayor's friends commissions, over $40,000 in relocation fees and a highly inflated sale price paid by taxpayers to take these properties off of the tax roll?

    Was the grant ever approved by City Council before they applied for it, spent money on appraisals, and committed matching taxpayer funds?

    Will something go wrong with the grant or the development, causing the entire project to back up like the sewers in Racine?
  36. b'
    Report Abuse
    b' - June 10, 2014 7:30 pm
    So, when are these people going to "decline" or back out of the plans? Before or after the way they see some of the people and how they live etc. in RATcine? Or are they just going to "sugar-coat" the truth too as to why they'll probably stop with development plans . . . ???
  37. No More Taxes
    Report Abuse
    No More Taxes - June 10, 2014 7:06 pm
    The buzz world in the news article is to secure anchor tenants in 30 to 45 days. A bank will not lend money unless they have some solid leases. The city has a lot of open space and at the high rent they will ask you could go else where. I give it a 35% chance to be developed.
    Sorry just the real fact.
  38. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - June 10, 2014 6:22 pm
    How about they stick to the limits of their statutory authority, control spending and costs, and get out of the real Estate Game. Let the free market take care of it - instead of The City and The County choosing winners and losers, shifting taxes, and being involved in areas where they don't belong.

    The biggest economic problems in Racine WERE caused by the City of Racine and they are headed down the same exact path as Detroit. Doing NOTHING from the start would have left the City and Residents in much better shape than the disaster that Racine is today. Are you really so deluded as to believe that this time it will be different? It's the last Hurrah!
  39. Rick Ray Earle
    Report Abuse
    Rick Ray Earle - June 10, 2014 6:19 pm
    Not my job. I didn't run for office or seek appointment to office. Our "leaders" did. They made the promises, so now we're supposed to make them come true? It's NOT my job man. They wanted this and they got it If you can't do your job, resign.

    I don't expect a baker to fix my car. These are "professional politicians," whose job it is to run the country.

    Our country has been heading down the toilet for the last 40 years. Why is it suddenly my job to remedy this? Lying politicians can't do their jobs, so they blame their victim.

    A guy fixes your car. You take it and it runs terrible. You take it back to him and he says, "Can you do any better?"

    It's Dickert's job to run this city. If he can't do it, resign.
  40. D Mase7p
    Report Abuse
    D Mase7p - June 10, 2014 6:01 pm
    Something better than nothing does not fly in this case. We do not need anymore touristy type places in this town. This town needs jobs like a heroin addict needs a fix. So they develop it, Then what?
    This is called putting the cart before the horse. Unemployment is at a record level and we want to build apartments and a view of Root River for nobody to see because nobody is booking a vacation in a depressed area. Not many people will be living in those apartments either, I highly doubt they are taking section 8.
    Our city council should be looking to invest in businesses that will be able to help this town stay afloat. Racinians are tired of having to drive to Milwaukee, Chicago, Kenosha and points west of Racine because there aren't any jobs here. That's money that goes to their community not ours. Gas, Food and sometimes Lodging spent elsewhere because people have to travel so far to find decent work. J-Wax, Case & ISE can only support so many, We need more businesses like those, So those $65 million dollar investments and development can be supported and then they flourish.
  41. BBarker
    Report Abuse
    BBarker - June 10, 2014 4:52 pm
    So easy to criticize behind an alias with no original ideas yourselves.
  42. us citizen
    Report Abuse
    us citizen - June 10, 2014 4:37 pm
    65 million to develop what?? What are people thinking? Racine has how many business parks that are EMPTY!?!? This city is so as backward on every thing they do. At one time Racine was a ok city. Now its DETROIT EAST!! TOTAL GHETTO THE REAL RATCINE!!!
  43. Bono
    Report Abuse
    Bono - June 10, 2014 4:21 pm
    Wow. What a bunch of haters.
    I wish the best to all involved in this development.
    I am cautiously optimistic due to past plans that didn't work out, but what would you complainers suggest? Doing nothing?
  44. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - June 10, 2014 3:27 pm
    I guess I misread the title.

    Thought it said Defendants settle RICO lawsuit for $65M.


  45. UTP
    Report Abuse
    UTP - June 10, 2014 2:59 pm
    "When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are"
  46. D Mase7p
    Report Abuse
    D Mase7p - June 10, 2014 1:59 pm
    Great, Another overpriced high rent residential area. Who do they think will live in these high rent condos. The ones that are already built are half empty. This city council does not understand what we need. We need JOBS and I don't mean more restaurants and tourist attractions. We need more industrial and real commerce jobs. This city is full of housing with nobody to live in them. Trying to turn Racine into the tourist capitol of Wisconsin is a bad plan, A failed plan and must be stopped at once.
  47. PrimeTime69
    Report Abuse
    PrimeTime69 - June 10, 2014 1:57 pm
    Anyone wanna make a $100 bet this is a total failure? Everytime Dickert makes an announcment of how "great" something is going to be, IT FAILS. (I.e. Delta Hawk, Porters, Skies Fall, Racine Tire & Recycling, NSP program, etc...etc...etc...)

    All this says is maybe they will build some empty buildings on the river, and MAYBE some businesses will show up, LAUGHABLE FAILURE.

    Executives and said the Machinery Row project is at the conceptual stage with many details yet to be fleshed out.......(just like Dickert to pat himself on the back before anything has happened) it's laughable, maybe just wait until the ink is dry and it's a for sure deal before some big hyped up failure of a press conference. Learn from history Racine!

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick