Follow Us

Officials with the Racine Baseball Cooperative filed an appeal Wednesday with the City’s building department to contest the department’s order to vacate their facility.

The City of Racine on Friday ordered the Racine Baseball Cooperative to vacate the third floor of 820 Water Street by Feb. 9 because the roof has started to collapse. But board members at RBC feel like the city is forcing them out unnecessarily.

City officials are concerned that part of the roof has started to give way and could have “a domino effect throughout the entire roof system,” according to an email by Ken Plaski, chief building inspector with the City of Racine.

In response, Dan Nicholson, the commissioner for RBC, said they are appealing the vacate order.

“It won’t meet for two weeks and it’s at the building department,” Nicholson said. “We think this order is unreasonable because our area of the building isn’t a problem and there’s no safety issue because that area is locked and on the other side of the building.”

Mayor John Dickert told the Racine County Eye after the Common Council Tuesday that the city plans to sit down with RBC officials.

“We’re not saying you have to get out,” Dickert said. “We’re saying that you have to shut down (operating) because we’re worried about that site and we can’t have them be in there. So it’s more like we’ve got to shut this down while we figure out what to do here. We’re not saying to RBC… sorry, but you got to hit the road.”

The 820 Water Street building is next to 900 Water Street, which has already started to collapse. Rodney Blackwell owns both buildings, which is a sensitive topic for the city because FDP MR LLC, Blackwell’s company, defaulted on a bridge loan the city gave to him.

In a separate issue, but related issue both buildings are the single discussion item on a special Common Council meeting Wednesday.

The topic is described as a “Communication from the Director of City  Development requesting to present the Common Council proposal for the future of the Machinery Row development.”

That part of the discussion is in open session, but the Common Council will then go into closed session on the topic.

In December, Blackwell received a notice of default on the development agreement. He still has a right to cure the default from the city, but he has until March 31 to bring in another developer with financing. If that doesn’t happen, the city will own the property.

No matter what happens, officials with the Racine Baseball Cooperative are starting to look for a new space.

“The city suggested the blue building near us, but there’s no heat in there. We could store stuff there. We’re not sure. But we might consider it if we could run gas and electric to the building. Be would also have the cost of insulating it,” Nicholson said.

We’ll update this story after the meeting Wednesday.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.