RACINE — The California development team called Mt. Royal Investments has continued its acquisition and investment streak in Downtown.
Mt. Royal is a team of three separate developers from the Los Angeles/Pasadena, Calif., area which bought the former Racine YMCA at 401 Wisconsin Ave. this summer and plans to convert it to housing. Mt. Royal’s interest in Racine is sparked entirely by the $10 billion Foxconn Technology Group project in Mount Pleasant.
With all of their Downtown holdings, Mt. Royal intends to make improvements in the properties, look for a handful of new retailers to bring to Downtown and, in one case, find a restaurateur.
On Thursday, Tim Ryan of Tim Ryan Construction, one of the Mt. Royal partners, sat down to talk about plans for each additional building acquired since the purchase of the former Racine YMCA. Mt. Royal plans to convert that 1915 four-story brick building to 46 brand-new apartments in a $4.5 million redevelopment project. An architecture firm, Continuum, is working on plans, Ryan said, and he is close to selecting a general contractor for the job.
He hopes the apartments could be open before the end of next year.
In addition to the old YMCA, Mt. Royal’s list of Downtown acquisitions now also include: 302 Main St., the former Main Street General Store; 411 Main St.; 436 and 440 Main St., the Haymarket Square Building; and 524 Main St. on Monument Square, a multi-tenant building.
In addition, Ryan himself has just closed on the purchase of 409 Main St., the Copacetic hat shop; and 107 Fourth St., the former Waves Pub & Grill.
Altogether, Ryan estimates, he and Mt. Royal have spent approximately $2.3 million to buy their portfolio of Downtown buildings. Including what the team will spend redeveloping and improving them, he said the total investment could eventually be close to $8 million.
“Luckily, we are (in) at the right time,” Ryan said, “because people are coming!”
The buildings, the plans
Ryan gave the following rundown of what Mt. Royal now owns in Downtown and the plans for each:
302 Main St., the former Main Street General Store, which was finished there as of Nov. 1. Ryan said the developers will convert it to “white box” conditions, apply for a façade grant and improve the façade. “We don’t have a tenant yet, but we feel good we will, and it’s a great location, a great spot.”
Upstairs is open space, and they plan to create two apartments there. “I’m already working with an architect,” Ryan said.
107 Fourth St.: With its commercial kitchen, the former Waves is set up to resume its life as a restaurant after some work by Mt. Royal, and that’s what Ryan plans for it. His preference is to find an existing successful restaurant operator “and say, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to be Downtown? It’s booming. You should be here,’ and I think they’ll do well.”
“We’re real-estate investors,” Ryan said, “but we’re really into business, and a lot of what we’re working on here is: Try to get good and stable businesses to this Downtown. So, we’re very, very much trying to be involved in that. And getting the right things down here, in the right places. Even trying to place what we think this town could use, if we can go that far.”
Ryan thinks it will take three to four months to get the space ready for another restaurant.
Above there is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, with a rear deck and views of the lake, that is ready to be rented.
409 Main St.: Copacetic will be there until Dec. 31, but Ryan expects a different retailer to come after that. The building has a good-size second-floor apartment and a third floor that could potentially become another apartment after a rehab.
411 Main St.: This three-story building has long been empty at street level, but Ryan thinks Mt. Royal may have a retail tenant for it. The two upper floors are finished, occupied apartments.
“It looks like we may have somebody that will take it as a retail space,” he said.
Mt. Royal has a property manager here that has been showing the space, he explained.
Two former banks
436 and 440 Main St.: The three-story Haymarket Square Building, originally Manufacturers National Bank, has two storefronts and nothing but empty space inside 436, Ryan said. Ultimately, he’d like to move Racine Creative Center to the second floor of 440 and find a national retailer for the first-floor space that faces Monument Square and another for 436.
The two buildings are connected inside at the second and third floors.
524 Main St.: This Monument Square building of about 24,000 square feet was First National Bank in the first part of the 20th century. It will remain primarily retail at street level and offices on the second and third floors, Ryan said. “We’re getting a lot of calls and interest for office space,” he said.
In particular, he’s trying to attract a real estate office. “I’m trying to woo a bigger, or local — I don’t care who, but I think a good residential/commercial real estate office is imperative down here. … And we’ve got the space for it.”
Mt. Royal has also taken one office for its local property and construction management. It is also donating another space to Downtown Racine Corp., which is using it for storage and also as a warming house and ice skate-changing space in winter.
The 524 Main St. building also includes a “T-off,” the 216 Sixth St. office used for many years by Congressman and then House Speaker Paul Ryan. Congressman-elect Bryan Steil will take it next, Ryan said.
Asked if Mt. Royal is finished acquiring Downtown Racine properties, Ryan replied, “We’re definitely going to slow down and work what we have, for sure. Now, if the right opportunity arrives, we’re always going to look at everything; we’re real estate investors.”
“We’re real-estate investors, but we’re really into business, and a lot of what we’re working on here is: Try to get good and stable businesses to this Downtown.” Tim Ryan, Mt. Royal Investments