Machinery Row building partially collapsed

A building on Machinery Row partially collapsed on May 31. 

RACINE — Two lawsuits against the City of Racine concerning a development project once called Machinery Row have been refiled in the state’s circuit court system.

Both cases surround how the city acquired property for the development, which would have been a $65 million mixed-use development in the 20-acre area north of Water Street and east of Marquette Street.

The city abandoned those plans and announced a new direction for the site last year. By the end of 2017, two civil lawsuits were filed against the city, alleging that former property owners and tenants in the development area were entitled to money from the city because of the project.

First lawsuit

Patrick Fagan filed the first lawsuit in December, alleging the city owed him more than $659,000 tied to his relocating from the site to make way for Machinery Row. Fagan was a tenant at 615 S. Marquette St., where he ran P & P Products, a millwork and machining business. He named the city, its Redevelopment Authority and two city officials as defendants.

A Racine County Circuit Court judge dismissed the case in May, after determining that the defendants were not properly served summonses in the matter. Judge David Paulson dismissed the complaint without prejudice, allowing Fagan to refile his claim.

Fagan, through attorney Todd Terry, filed a new case against the city this month, now requesting $594,948.95 tied to three moves he has made since leaving the site, plus the costs of two other claims that have not yet been tabulated.

He alleges that he was forced to move his business but that the city did not offer or process any relocation claims or benefits prior to June 2017. According to the complaint, the Redevelopment Authority agreed in December to pay Fagan about $64,500 related to portions of two of his claims. The third has not yet been processed or paid, and two more are forthcoming, the complaint states.

Fagan also requested judgment in an amount to be determined for relocating his business, plus damages and litigation costs.

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Second lawsuit

The second lawsuit was filed in federal court by a group of nine businesses and their owners, including Richard Olson, against the city, the Redevelopment Authority and some current and former city officials. In that case, the plaintiffs also sought compensation for relocating out of properties that were acquired for Machinery Row.

That case was dismissed in March in accordance with terms agreed upon by the parties. Some portions of the complaint were dismissed with prejudice, and others without.

On June 14, the case was refiled in the Circuit Court system, this time with fewer plaintiffs and only the city and Redevelopment Authority as defendants. Olson remained a plaintiff.

The complaint alleges that the businesses had to cease their operations because they weren’t provided relocation assistance. The plaintiffs filed six claims with the Redevelopment Authority, which were all denied other than portions of two, the complaint states.

The plaintiffs requested about $1.07 million as relief, plus funds to re-establish businesses and some litigation expenses.

As of Friday afternoon, the city had yet to respond to either complaint. City Attorney Scott Letteney said in an emailed statement that he was aware of the lawsuits. Fagan’s complaint is under review, but Olson’s complaint has not yet been served, Letteney said.

“I am confident that all processing of relocation benefits related to the Water Street development site has been in compliance with the relevant law,” he Letteney said.

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