County Board delays development approval after letting rival developer hear preferred bid proposal

This is pretty stunning, and not in a good way (emphasis added).

County Board members are delaying approval on a $60 million development that would bring nearly 200 apartments along with commercial space to the the Park East strip.

Opus Development Corp. and Mercy Housing Lakefront Inc. are offering to buy the 2.3-acre site, a vacant block bordered by Water St., Broadway, Ogden Ave. and Milwaukee St., for $2.5 million.

The County Board’s Economic and Community Development Committee on Monday approved on a 4-2 vote a motion to delay acting on a request for a purchase option. Supervisors Michael Mayo, David Bowen, Willie Johnson and Jim Schmitt voted for the delay, with supervisors Steve Taylor and Khalif Rainey opposing the motion.

Committee members said they wanted more information about competing proposals for the site, which they will hear in closed session before voting in open session on the option request. State law allows closed sessions to discuss real estate negotiations.

That special meeting is to occur in time for the full board to consider a proposed purchase option at its July 25 meeting.

The vote to hold off on approval came after rival developer Stewart Wangard and his attorney, Brian Randall, appeared before the committee.

To give a little background, the County Board approved the RFP process that led to the bids on the site located on the vacant Park East strip, a process that included a panel comprised of two county appointees, two city appointees, and a professional reviewing the bids. After the bids were reviewed, the development proposed by Opus Development Corp. and Mercy Housing Lakefront Inc. was chosen over the development proposal by Stewart Wangard, based in large part on the fact that Wangard’s proposal called for financing assistance from a city tax incremental financing district.

During the proceedings that led to the delay in finalizing approval for the development, County Economic Development Director Tieg Whaley-Smith noted that Wangard, by appearing at the meeting, was able to hear details on a rival proposal and then provide information beyond what had been submitted during the panel review process, something other bidders were unable to do. I’m told it was also suggested Stewart Wangard could amend his own proposal and re-submit it. Now I’m no real estate developer, but allowing one potential developer to hear the details of another developer’s proposal before allowing the first developer to re-submit his proposal certainly seems like a curious/improper way to go about doing business.

While Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel did a good job reporting on the story, one key detail his story left out is the fact that Brian Randall, the lawyer representing Stewart Wangard, just happens to be Marina Dimitrijevic’s campaign treasurer.

Anyone wanna take bets on how long it takes the County Board to approve the “new and improved” development proposal sure to be re-submitted by Stewart Wangard?


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5 thoughts on “County Board delays development approval after letting rival developer hear preferred bid proposal

  1. Excellent reporting. I’ve been and remain a very strong supporter of the CB, but the facts in your story are a serious concern.

    Only if you care to, I’d enjoy any speculation on why Daykin and his editors left that part out.

  2. Funny thing is they were just asking for further information since Abele would not release the results of the RFP. Apparently he expects people to just trust him even though he’s given every reason for them not to.

    Oh, and since there is no delay, will you be offering a public apology?

    1. Wrote Chris on his blog:

      Zach Wisniewski immediately called it a conspiracy.

      So Chris, where in this entry did I use the word conspiracy?

      I simply pointed out FACTS. For example, it’s a FACT that Stewart Wangard was represented at the meeting by Brian Randall, and it’s a FACT that Randall is also the campaign treasurer for Marina Dimitrijevic. It’s also a FACT that Wangard was allowed to attend the meeting and hear specifics of a rival’s proposal, and that does seem odd, given that usually developers aren’t supposed to be privy to the proposals being submitted by their competitors.

      Now run along back to your blog and throw around some of your favorite buzzwords like plutocracy and emperor, and don’t bother coming back here until you’re ready to stop telling lies.

  3. The sun rises and Capper’s making shit up again.. It’s what people who are desperate for attention do and although I don’t watch as much as I used to, it seems that the more he’s screaming, the less attention he gets, which causes him to scream more and try to pick fights with people like you. It’s classic and predictable behavior that can be found on page 239 of the college freshman psych course under the casestudy for “Obsessed fucking moron.” If it were Abele’s campaign treasurer who were testifying against or for a particular proposal up in front of the County, he’d be cappergasm’ing all over the place.

    Next week, he’ll have to amp it up even more to outdo the dumbfuckery the committed this week.

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