Downtown Racine site considered for development featuring multi-family, hotel

Madison developer unveils plans for $40 million project near Lake Michigan harbor

A vacant lot in downtown Racine may be eventually be redeveloped into 190 residential units and a 100-room hotel, as part of a project expected to exceed $40 million in total value once finished.

Hovde Properties’ proposed apartments in Racine. (Rendering: Kahler Slater)

City leaders, along with Madison-based developer Hovde Properties, announced on Tuesday that Hovde is exploring the possibility of developing the 3.55-acre site at 233 Lake Ave., near Racine’s Lake Michigan harbor.

Included in the project are two four- to five-story multi-family buildings, a hotel, a green center courtyard and an enclosed parking facility. The market-rate units would be a mix of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom units. Also planned is a building specifically dedicated to amenities such as a workout facility, club room and outdoor activity space. Hovde would own and manage the residential buildings.

The hotel, for its part, would be developed by a separate owner/operator in partnership with Hovde, though a specific hotel owner was not identified. The hotel could also include a new restaurant.

On Thursday, the Racine Redevelopment Authority, which owns the development site, is scheduled to consider granting site control to Hovde. The developer is seeking an option agreement with the Redevelopment Authority to have exclusive rights to the property through April 30 of next year. The agreement stipulates that in exchange for a $40,000 payment to the Redevelopment Authority, the developer will have first rights to purchase the site as well as exclusive access to the property.

Hovde Properties’ proposed $40 million Racine development. (Rendering: Kahler Slater)

Over that time period, Hovde plans to spend about $200,000 to conduct due diligence, such as geotechnical investigations and engineering studies.

Shannon Powell, city of Racine communications director, said the geotechnical work will be conducted to “make sure the land can match the use of what they’re trying to do on the property.”

Mayor Cory Mason said downtown Racine is in need of more high-quality housing and hotel space.

“Hovde’s investment of $40 million will provide nearly 200 new housing units and a hotel with lake views in the heart of the downtown,” Mason said in a statement. “With developments like this, Racine will be the community of choice for people to work, live, and play in southeastern Wisconsin.”

The former industrial site was sold to the Redevelopment Authority by We Energies in 2015, Powell said. Since then, the city has spent approximately $500,000 to clean up the site and ready it for development. About two years ago plans were introduced to build an event center there, but Mason vetoed that proposal in 2017.

“Hovde Properties has developed a strong and collaborative relationship with Mayor Mason and his staff and our team looks forward to continuing our joint efforts to explore a building development that will advance the revitalization of the city of Racine and provide housing and hotel space to meet the needs of the area’s growing economy,” Eric Hovde, chief executive officer of Hovde, said in a statement.

A vacant lot in downtown Racine may be eventually be redeveloped into 190 residential units and a 100-room hotel, as part of a project expected to exceed $40 million in total value once finished.

Hovde Properties’ proposed apartments in Racine. (Rendering: Kahler Slater)

City leaders, along with Madison-based developer Hovde Properties, announced on Tuesday that Hovde is exploring the possibility of developing the 3.55-acre site at 233 Lake Ave., near Racine’s Lake Michigan harbor.

Included in the project are two four- to five-story multi-family buildings, a hotel, a green center courtyard and an enclosed parking facility. The market-rate units would be a mix of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom units. Also planned is a building specifically dedicated to amenities such as a workout facility, club room and outdoor activity space. Hovde would own and manage the residential buildings.

The hotel, for its part, would be developed by a separate owner/operator in partnership with Hovde, though a specific hotel owner was not identified. The hotel could also include a new restaurant.

On Thursday, the Racine Redevelopment Authority, which owns the development site, is scheduled to consider granting site control to Hovde. The developer is seeking an option agreement with the Redevelopment Authority to have exclusive rights to the property through April 30 of next year. The agreement stipulates that in exchange for a $40,000 payment to the Redevelopment Authority, the developer will have first rights to purchase the site as well as exclusive access to the property.

Hovde Properties’ proposed $40 million Racine development. (Rendering: Kahler Slater)

Over that time period, Hovde plans to spend about $200,000 to conduct due diligence, such as geotechnical investigations and engineering studies.

Shannon Powell, city of Racine communications director, said the geotechnical work will be conducted to “make sure the land can match the use of what they’re trying to do on the property.”

Mayor Cory Mason said downtown Racine is in need of more high-quality housing and hotel space.

“Hovde’s investment of $40 million will provide nearly 200 new housing units and a hotel with lake views in the heart of the downtown,” Mason said in a statement. “With developments like this, Racine will be the community of choice for people to work, live, and play in southeastern Wisconsin.”

The former industrial site was sold to the Redevelopment Authority by We Energies in 2015, Powell said. Since then, the city has spent approximately $500,000 to clean up the site and ready it for development. About two years ago plans were introduced to build an event center there, but Mason vetoed that proposal in 2017.

“Hovde Properties has developed a strong and collaborative relationship with Mayor Mason and his staff and our team looks forward to continuing our joint efforts to explore a building development that will advance the revitalization of the city of Racine and provide housing and hotel space to meet the needs of the area’s growing economy,” Eric Hovde, chief executive officer of Hovde, said in a statement.

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