RACINE — The Racine City Council’s Executive Committee met in closed session Tuesday evening to discuss Machinery Row without taking action, and few officials were willing to say anything about the meeting.
Machinery Row is the proposed mixed-use, riverfront redevelopment along Water Street. Machinery Row developer Rodney Blackwell, through his Davenport, Iowa-based company Financial District Properties, has proposed redeveloping two former J.I. Case Co. buildings at 820 and 900 Water St. into housing and commercial space.
In early June, Blackwell said he and city officials had worked out an adjustment to their development agreement that would give him more time to repay a $4.5 million city loan the city made in December 2014. With 20 riverfront acres as collateral, the city made that loan when Blackwell was trying to secure $9 million in state historic tax credits and faced an end-of-year deadline to show the state he controlled the property.
The loan came from the intergovernmental sewer agreement shared-revenue fund. Loan terms also required the city to buy buildings at 526 and 615 Marquette St. for a combined $1.8 million.
Originally, FDP was to have repaid the loan by Jan. 31, but the City Council granted an extension to April 30. City Administrator Tom Friedel said that before they reached the revised deadline, Blackwell asked for a second extension, of four months, to repay the city loan he used to buy the property.
Friedel said earlier he’d like to give Blackwell that extra time, until Aug. 31 — but not to go beyond that date.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Friedel said, “We’re negotiating an extension. That’s what we have been at for a while. It’s complicated.”
Asked if the project looks positive, Friedel replied, “It’s positive. We’re still talking.”
Mayor John Dickert said, “We’ll never quit. It’s too important for our people.”
District 6 Alderman Sandy Weidner said, “I did say that this whole discussion needs to be more public,” and said that would result in a better project.
In the meantime, while the city and Blackwell negotiate a loan extension, FDP is paying the city 1 percent quarterly interest on the loan.