RACINE — The businessman behind a $1.2 million commercial development near Uptown has been awarded up to $100,000 in special project funds from the area’s tax increment finance district to help pay for unforeseen earth work.
Approved Monday night by the committee that represents the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Racine, the grant will be used to help reimburse the developer for money he spent demolishing and excavating foundations that no one knew were located on the site.
Five to six years ago, the Schaefer family donated the property to the city, which removed a decrepit building to create a redevelopment site which officials in turn sold to developer Akil Ajmeri for $10,000.
Not in a position to hand over the full $200,000, Sadowski told the committee that city development staff brought forward the proposal to use special project dollars available in the TIF fund. The funds, he said, are earmarked to pay for cost overruns or other projects.
Under the “development assistance agreement” approved by the committee on Monday, Ajmeri would have to submit an accounting of what was spent to demolish, remove and fill the foundations before getting any funds, Sadowski said. The most he could receive would be $100,000.
From the October 7, 2013 Official Redevelopment Authority of The City of Racine Meeting Minutes – with Commissioner Nicholson presiding:
Click on Images to Enlarge:
But before the City of Racine, under Mayor John Dickert, gave this $1.2M Development $100,000 in taxpayer money, they made the hard decision to forgo the fragility of the neighborhood and EXCEED liquor license quotas – just because this $1.2M Development was too important to the community!
From The Journal Times, August 22, 2012:
RACINE — Arguing that they couldn’t stand between an economically battered Uptown and a $1.2 million development, aldermen voted 10-3 Tuesday to exceed the city’s cap on hard liquor licenses.
Approval of the project has been a long process, officials said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. In addition to winning support for the development itself, Ajmeri has been seeking approval from the City Council for a Class A intoxicating liquor license permitting the sale of packaged beer, as well as wine and spirits.
The city currently has 28 Class A liquor licenses issued. Ajmeri’s license would bring that number to 29 — five more than the city’s self-imposed quota of 24 licenses for that particular class
On Tuesday, aldermen voted 10-3 to both allow the city to exceed its Class A quota, and approve Ajmeri’s application for the license.
Aldermen spent the better part of an hour discussing the two items.
Those voting in favor of granting the license said that Ajmeri’s project fit perfectly within the guidelines the council had established for exceeding its quota. They argued that the development would have an economic impact greater than what would come from the addition of just another liquor store.
“We have an empty lot that is going to become a full lot. We have a lot that is generating zero dollars in tax revenue, that is now going to be generating taxes,” Helding said.
So, if Mayor John Dickert, Director of City Development Brian O’Connell, Alderman Greg Helding and The Journal Times all claim it is a $1.2 million dollar development, why did the City assess it at only $850,000? That’s $350,000 less than claimed in a city that is famous for over-assessing other properties by tens of thousands of $$$! Aren’t property values supposed to double every ten years?
So taking an inside look at
$1.2 million $850,000 dollar development, in a fragile neighborhood where hard liquor and single servings are prohibited, what do we find?
A Large selection of DRUG PARAPHERNALIA FOR SALE! Because…. well, it’s only legal for tobacco use….. where is anti-tobacco crusader Alderman Jim Kaplan when you need him? Only the best for Racine’s ghetto dwellers and slumdoggs!
A nice selection of hard liquor – competitively priced, or course!
And a nice selection of the INFAMOUS… Single Servings!
Building on success, Ayra’s opened a new location at Washington and Ohio!
From the Journal Times, November 7 , 2013:
RACINE — A local businessman will soon open a large new, centrally located liquor and cigar store here.
Akil Ajmeri is building his Ayra’s Liquor and Cigar store at 4700 Washington Ave. in 4,800 square feet of space formerly occupied by a Hollywood Video store.
Ajmeri is the owner and developer of several Ayra’s gas stations, convenience stores and Subway restaurants in the area, starting in Caledonia and stretching from Oak Creek to Kenosha.
The new Ayra’s Liquor and Cigar should open by Thanksgiving, Ajmeri said Wednesday. But it’s not his only development on the verge of opening; this month he also hopes to open a new, $1.2 million Ayra’s gas station, convenience store and Subway at 1130 Washington Ave. That project also has another retail space not yet leased out.
What The Journal Times forgot to add – is that this Ayra’s location would feature a selection of video poker
gambling machines! Remember kids, gambling at establishments like a liquor store is illegal in Wisconsin – these are FOR AMUSEMENT ONLY! Like, who’s going to hang around and gamble in a liquor and cigar store? Especially when you can’t smoke or drink inside either…. right? Imagine if Alderman Jim Kaplan suddenly showed up! Goddamnit! WWJD? Whips and Chains? Overturning Tables?
But Ayra’s also has additional stores – in Kenosha and one at Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig’s County-owned Reefpoint Marina! From the City of Racine Common Council Meeting Minutes of May 6, 2014:
2 Christopher Columbus way – the exact same addresses shared by Ayra’s on the Lake and Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig’s Reefpoint Marina. What does Ayra’s on the Lake pay in rent to reimburse County Taxpayers for providing the facility? From the 2014 Racine County Budget:
Looks to be about $0.
So what’s in it for Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig? WHY! Nothing less but a cushy job for his latest wife – Debra Ladwig! Is that not nice of Ayra’s to offer Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig’s wife Debra, a position in one of the stores that is located in Racine. Thank God it’s not at that 1130 Washington Ave. ghetto location – where there are large concentrations of Colored People! Safety first! And Racine County Taxpayers get screwed once again by Jim Ladwig!
Friends take care of friends – that’s what they do. Especially when taxpayer dollars are at stake! From City of Racine Mayor John Dickert’s speech on the State of the City – April 15, 2014!
Liquor, Lottery, Tobacco, Drug Paraphernalia, Nepotism, Graft and Corruption! Just who is the Mafia of the 21st. Century?
An astute reader sent in additional information, from the City of Racine Common Council Meeting of August 21, 2012:
Another Astute Reader provided these pictures taken at Reefpoint Marina. While it is great that local businesses are being promoted in an area that has been set aside – it this opportunity available to all, and is there a cost? What is the role of government? To provide basic services and maintain a level playing field where the written rule of law is enforced – or to tilt the tables, pick winners and losers and provide public officials with free favors? Why not taxpayer funded “free” business space for everybody?
These are photos taken Labor Day weekend at the taxpayer subsidized Reef Point Gift Shop where they sell beer, liquor and cigars from Ayra’s and hats from Mary Osterman’s store, Copacetic, right next to brochures promoting her business in Racine and Waukesha. These are also right next to the Journal Times newspapers for sale, the Downtown Racine brochures, and the Great Lakes Waterway Guide. They also sell O&H Kringles there. What an advantage it must be to have the City and County paying for and promoting your business?
See also, from Racine In Ruins: