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@North Beach image

This image shows the northern face of the proposed southern building of the roughly $50 million @North Beach development by Royal Capital Group. The company plans to create 247 market-rate apartments in two buildings at the former Walker Manufacturing site.

RACINE — A Milwaukee developer is now just one step away from being able to move forward with @North Beach, the $50 million-plus apartment project at the former Walker Manufacturing site.

The City Plan Commission Wednesday unanimously recommended granting a conditional-use permit to Royal Capital Group of Milwaukee and approving a site plan for the 247-unit apartment project called @North Beach. Those recommendations go to the City Council Tuesday evening for final approval.

Mayor Cory Mason has called @North Beach, 1129 Michigan Blvd., the biggest redevelopment project in the city in a generation.

The 9.5-acre property lies between Pugh Marina, 1001 Michigan Blvd., the city water treatment plant at 100 Hubbard St., and the lake. Royal Capital is buying the city-owned site, currently considered the city’s prime development opportunity, for $3.2 million.

Two apartment buildings are to be constructed: A seven-story building with a two-story parking structure, and a five-story building with one story of parking. Every apartment will have either a balcony or walk-out patio.

Those two buildings, both on the lake side of the overall site, comprise the first of two phases. Royal Capital envisions developing the rest of the site later. Mason has said phase two is also envisioned to be mostly market-rate housing.

“The idea is that we’re really building a neighborhood in here,” he said previously. Last week, Felipe Ornelas of Milwaukee-based Engberg Anderson Architects said that, although the buildings will not have a uniform look, it will be evident that they are part of one development.

The southernmost building is to have an outdoor pool and tanning deck, a shared amenity for both buildings, Ornelas said. Each building will have its own fitness center, and each building is being designed to accommodate a restaurant, although whether there will be one or two will be up to Royal Capital.

The company hopes for construction of both infrastructure and @North Beach itself to start in May, said Terrell Walter, Royal Capital’s development manager for multifamily housing.

Development incentive

The project is to be partly funded by a developer-funded tax increment district. That existing TID currently has 14 years of life remaining. As tax increment is created by Royal Capital’s investment, the city will share 90 percent of that increment with company for the TID’s remaining life, City Director Amy Connolly has explained.

“We’re not extending it, and the developer has agreed to that,” she said previously.

City Administrator Jim Palenick said that arrangement will help Royal Capital fill the financing gap that exists because Racine’s property taxes are relatively high and rents relatively low. And there are no recent comparable market-rate projects for lenders to use to judge this one by.

Both he and Mason have said that Foxconn Technology Group is the fuel that is driving this project and that, without Foxconn, @North Beach would not be happening.

Mason said in December that the construction project will create 350 jobs. It will be the first done under the Racine Works program, meaning at least 20 percent of the worker hours will have to come from low- to moderate-income Racine residents.

“I’m really excited about getting my hands dirty with the entire team and finding ways to get people to work here,” Royal Capital Group President Keven Newell said at the time.

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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