Gorman & Company Inc. is looking to develop 820 and 900 Water St., which are two buildings in the Machinery Row project.

Rodney Blackwell, owner of Iowa-based development firm Financial District Properties, owns the two properties and has them listed under FDP MR LLC.

He received a notice of default on the development agreement and right to cure the default in December from the city. In 2014, the city gave Blackwell a bridge loan to buy the property. He promised to pay the money back to the city. But now that he’s in default, he needs to get another developer to take on the project to cure the issue with the city.

If Blackwell can’t get another developer and financing for the project by March 31, the City will end up owning the property. However, the courting process has just begun with Gorman & Company. In a unanimous vote, the Common Council voted at special Common Council meeting held Wednesday to extend the default deadline until April 4.

Alderman Q.A. Shakoor II was excused from the meeting.

“Everyone thinks we’re in the fourth quarter on this… but we’re not,” said Mayor John Dickert. “We’re at half-time.”

The vote included transferring the Historic Preservation Tax Credits from FDP MR LLC — which is the sole member listed on the credits — to the Redevelopment Authority. Once that occurs, they can then be transferred to Gorman & Company. But it also authorized the City’s attorney to take Blackwell to court if that transfer doesn’t occur.

“But that’s really the last thing we want to do and I don’t have any reason to believe at this point that it won’t get done,” said city attorney Scott Letteney.

New Developer Promises Market-rate Apartments

Oregon, Wisconsin-based Gorman & Company redeveloped the Mitchell Wagon Lofts and Belle Harbor Lofts. They also built a mixed-use commercial and apartment complex at State and Main St.

The project would include taking over the mortgage from FDP MR LLC. The two properties make up one lot of four included in the entire Machinery Row project. Plans for that lot include 100 percent market-rate apartments, office space and a grocery store. But could include more development.

Ted Matkom, Wisconsin market president at the Gorman & Company, said the developer has a lot of experience with development in Racine.

“We are bullish on Racine,” he said. “We’ve got Machinery Row pretty much surrounded…. And we think Racine is about to pop.”

Deadline Extended

Officials with Gorman & Company will have two months to do their due diligence on the site and come back to the city with revisions to the development agreement, explained City Planner Amy Connolly.

“We’re taking a time out,” Connolly said. “This new developer will have 60 days to do their due diligence to decide whether they want the property.”

During that time, Gorman & Company expects to put together environmental studies, figure out their financing and to their engineering studies.

“And not all of us lost in this game,” Matkom said. “We’ve got a good relationship with Rodney and we’re picking up the ball and running with it. We know what does and doesn’t work in Racine.”

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