City’s riverfront restroom option number 2 may be flushed
Another property owner has pulled the plug on riverfront restrooms.
A deal under negotiation in which One Enterprises would buy the Boardwalk Ice Cream building owned by John Hanse and sell the basement/terrace floor on the riverside of 223 Hubbard St. to the City of Allegan was flushed away after Hanse decided not to sell.
A previous deal to rent the terrace floor of 217 Hubbard St. also fell through as it was about to go to bid last fall. The city quickly put a stop to a $25,000 architectural/design plan in process, but was already out $19,000 when JML Real Estate pulled out of the project saying it was not in a position to begin their portion of the development at that time and asked the city to seek another option.
Hanse was at the city council’s pre-session meeting on May 27, when the city discussed funding another option for a $203,000 price tag to purchase five to six restrooms along with a storage area in the terrace floor at 223 Hubbard. The restroom facility would be move-in ready, with One Enterprises doing the construction work to completely rehabilitate the space with new windows and doors, bathrooms, a waiting area and storage unit.
One Enterprises is a development company owned by Weichert Realtors Platinum Group agent Ben Otis and his father Mike who are currently rehabbing 136 Brady St. as an apartment/retail mixed-use development.
“It was more than what we were going to get at 217 Hubbard and owning as opposed to renting is the better option,” Dye said.
The outside patio space Boardwalk Ice Cream currently occupies could also be made to fit in as part of the pedestrian plaza.
Hanse said he had offered to rent the Boardwalk Ice Cream terrace level for $1,000 a month with restrooms added but did not get an answer. He also offered to sell the building for $175,000 to the city.
“Then Otis jumped into the middle and has taken away what the owner wanted to do and I’m out of the picture,” Hanse said. “Did you ever read what I offered in April?”
The council said they did.
After the relationship with JML Real Estate fell apart to secure a rental restroom facility, Dye said he did not recommend renting.
Buying the building for $175,000, then spending another $150,000 to rehab the basement to the same standard as the Welcome Center restrooms would have cost the city $325,000 and then the city would have to figure out what to do with the rest of the building, he said.
With One Enterprises buying the building, Otis was proposing to make the two floors above into condominiums and selling the basement unit to the city with restroom renovations already in place. Dye said the city would make progress payments up front to get the project started and final payment when the property was ready to move in. The development agreement would set milestones to protect the city.
Council member Nancy Ingalsbee said that was common.
“It seems like a legitimate good deal for the city,” she said. “For me this makes sense.”
With the city’s new splash pad making its debut over the Memorial Day weekend, Dye said the riverfront was slammed.
Dye said over the Memorial Day weekend people slammed the splash pad and were having picnics although it was a horrible weekend to be playing in the water because of all the rain.
“The number one question people asked was “where can my kid go change?” he said.
For now, the answer remains at the Welcome Center on Brady Street.
Two days after the city council’s restroom facility discussion, Hanse said he would not to sell to One Enterprises.
“He can’t be the realtor for me (the seller) and the city (the buyer) at the same time,” Hanse asserted, although no document was presented of Otis as his agent. “I still want to make a deal with the city for what they need—I think what the city has done down here is great.”
Otis had no comment.
On Tuesday, June 4, Hanse said he sold his building to Nevin Cooper-Keel, the insurance agent whose office is already in the building.
“I’ve offered the city the same deal... for less money,” Cooper-Keel said.
Cooper-Keel used One Enterprises’s estimate and then cut $19,000 “as a good will gesture to help the city on their losses.”
Any third option for restrooms would have to go before the city council.
Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (269) 673-5534.
Editor’s note: This story has been edited from the print edition to clarify that One Enterprises was the buyer in the proposed sale, not Weichert Realtors Platinum Group.