RACINE — A three-story building in the Water Street Redevelopment Area partially collapsed Thursday afternoon.
The former J.I. Case Co. building, 900 Water St., was already destined for demolition. It is part of the former Machinery Row project site that is being redeveloped as part of the Water Street Redevelopment plan. Chief Building Inspector Ken Plaski has determined 900 Water St. is “unfit for human occupancy.”
The Racine police and fire departments responded about 5:10 p.m. after city employees heard what sounded like building demolition coming from the area.
The building and property are owned by the Racine Redevelopment Authority. Racine Mayor Cory Mason released a statement Friday saying the RDA is “aware of the dangerous conditions of the buildings on the site as a result of an interior building study completed last summer.”
“The study and engineering report documented the dangerous structural condition of the buildings and the difficulty and expense of rehabilitating the buildings for redevelopment,” according to Mason’s statement. “The site has been fenced off from the public since January, 2018 in order to ensure public safety in case of building collapse, protect the public from environmental conditions on the site, and to discourage illegal entrance to the buildings.”
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Mason said the RDA plans to release a bid this month for full site demolition and environmental remediation. The timeline calls for demolition beginning in late July/early August and work being substantially completed by the end of this year.
“The RDA requests that the public stay out of the Water Street site until demolition and environmental remediation efforts are completed,” Mason stated.
Machinery Row fizzles
In summer 2014 Blackwell, then Mayor John Dickert and other dignitaries announced Davenport, Iowa, developer Rodney Blackwell’s intention to redevelop the 900 Water St. building and, very possibly, the adjacent and connected former Case building at 820 Water St. The plan was known as Machinery Row, named for the riverfront area by that name in the city’s adopted “RootWorks” plan for redeveloping an old industrial section of riverfront.
Blackwell was hindered by an enormous quantity of merchandise in storage in the 900 Water St. building and ultimately could not pull off his redevelopment plans. The buildings were provided to the RDA as part of a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” agreement with Blackwell.
The Water Street Redevelopment Plan calls for razing the Machinery Row buildings, the 615 Marquette St. building on the south side of Water Street, and the 526 Marquette St. building to create 27 clear riverfront-area acres for development. The RDA has plans to issue a request for qualifications for one or more new developers in early 2019.
“The (Racine Redevelopment Authority) requests that the public stay out of the Water Street site until demolition and environmental remediation efforts are completed.” Mayor Cory Mason
"The (Racine Redevelopment Authority) requests that the public stay out of the Water Street site until demolition and environmental remediation efforts are completed.”
Mayor Cory Mason