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BURNED COMMUNITY CENTER

Developer eyes burned Lakeview Community Center for development on Racine's north side

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RACINE — The large lot that is the home to the partially-burned Lakeview Community Center, next to the Racine Zoo and with beautiful views of Lake Michigan, is such a good spot that it’s surprising someone has not done something with it.

One developer agrees, and would like a year to explore their options.

F Street Development Group of Milwaukee has entered into a planning option agreement that gives it the exclusive right for 12 months, with an option for 18 months, to explore the feasibility of a mixed-use development at the site.

In this instance, the mixed-use development could include a multifamily residential building along with public space within the city’s Lakeview Park.

The Racine City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the agreement.

Community Center

The Lakeview Community Center closed for Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department programs in 2004.

Afterward, a group called Friends of Seniors organized senior adult programs at the facility.

Belle City Biergarten

Racine Mayor Cory Mason gives a toast during the grand opening of the Belle City Biergarten at Lakeview Park, 201 Goold St., on June 21, 2019. 

It had been used for voting; it was a rental space for various functions, including a summer beer garden, the Belle City Biergarten; and the building was open in the summer so that people playing in the park or at the beach had access to the bathrooms.

But in September 2019, the building was a total loss after a kitchen fire spread to the rest of the building. The $967,000 the city received from the insurance was not quite enough to raze the building and build something new.

The building has remained closed to the public since.

Planning option

The agreement between the city and F Street, as outlined in the Agenda Briefing Memorandum, specifies that due to the historical public use of the site, the city is requiring that any development include public spaces.

The purpose of a planning option is to allow the developer to “complete all due diligence steps to determine the physical and financial feasibility” of construction without the concern they will be spending money on the project – only to lose the space to another developer.

The agreement between the developer and the city includes the following:

  • The city will provide access to all available economic and environmental information about the site. Any environmental information garnered by the developer will be shared with the city.
  • The city will assist in ongoing environmental investigations by allowing access, once the developer has shown proof of insurance.
  • The city agrees not to sell or lease the property to anyone else during the 12 months with the possibility to extend to 18 months.
  • The city agrees to provide the developer with exclusive negotiating rights for the purchase or lease of the property during the term agreed upon.
  • Any development agreement between the city and the developer would have to be approved by the City Council.

Pleasant Prairie

The agreement with Racine is similar to the one F Street has with the Village of Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County.

There, F Street has an 18-month exclusivity agreement to negotiate for the development of the central portion of the Village Green Center Development, which could include apartment buildings with first-floor commercial space.

Scott Lurie, F Street founder and president, has described his company as a multifamily and industrial investment firm with many completed and ongoing projects, mostly located in southeastern Wisconsin.

The company currently owns and manages about 1,500 multi-family units with just less than 1 million square feet of industrial space, Lurie said.

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