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Vespera at Porticello granted extension

Developers: We're using own money to keep it alive

March 2, 2011

City of Oconomowoc — A large pile of dirt seemed to be the main concern during recent hearings over lagging residential development Vespera at Porticello. Regardless of the dirt, the Common Council on Tuesday approved a five-year extension on the planned development for the project that - like many others - has been the victim of the economy.

The original plan for the high-end condominium development was approved in 2006, but it went through a hiatus after former builder Icon Development Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jeffery Klement filed bankruptcy last year. That, teamed with the housing market's struggles, didn't help the planned development of two-story $1million condos.

Since Klement left the project, two men, Don Johnson and Ray Schultz, have taken over the project, working to help it achieve success. The two developers don't want to see the project fail; to keep it going, they have been investing their own money it to keep it alive.

A neighboring resident to the development spoke at the hearing complaining of a large dirt pile and silt fence that he can see from his back window. He said the area is in disrepair, and "looks like the city dump," adding that it's a disgrace to neighboring properties and their value.

During a Plan Commission meeting on the planned development extension, it was determined that the developers will work with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to relocate the dirt to the beach area. The dirt was originally intended to be used for beach restoration as part of the project, but the developers must get approval from the DNR before following through with that. Johnson, who was at Tuesday's meeting, said that until the DNR approves this and things thaw out, the dirt will likely have to remain piled up.

Alderman James Larsen asked if a date on the dirt's relocation could be added to the planned development for approval. But Johnson objected because of extenuating factors such as the weather and DNR approval that could conflict with a specific date.

Mayor Jim Daley said that the developers should be commended for their continued commitment and investment in this project and their word that the dirt will be taken care of soon is enough.

The extension passed unanimously, giving the planned development until Jan. 3, 2016.

Johnson said he anticipates progress in the development picking up this year. Recently, Shorewest Realtors Associate Vice President Rebecca Sprague announced that she had closed on a single-family unit there, leaving only two original shells constructed by Icon that have completed exteriors but unfinished interiors.

The new plan is to have Delafield's Robert Loepfe Inc. Custom Builders take over the project. She said once the original shells are gone, the six remaining units are sold, Loepfe will start building standalones or custom-build homes. She said the standalones are a single-family village that would also allow for a side-by-side.

The price has also been knocked down. Sprague said in a previous interview the plan is to start the units at about $600,000. Previously, the units started at $1 million. The real estate agent, who has 20 years of experience in the housing market, said she does see an uptick in sales. Sprague said sales at Shorewest at the end of last year were up 80 percent over 2009.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Spring Seedling Sale & Greenhouse Open House: 10 a.m. May 23, NuGenesis Farm, N68 W33208 County Road K, Oconomowoc. A variety of organic veggie and herb seedlings to plant in your home or community garden this spring will be for sale. All plant sale profits will benefit the Giving Garden initiative.

Memorial Honor Celebration: 8 a.m. May 23, Wisconsin Harley-Davidson, 1280 Blue Ribbon Drive, Oconomowoc. Daylong event begins with reveille and breakfast at 8 a.m. followed by color guard and the national anthem. The event also includes military and veterans organizations, interactive displays and vehicles, food and beverages and entertainment. Evening showing of “Honor Flight: One Last Mission.” on a big, outdoor screen.

"Small Space Container Gardens" Seminar: 11 a.m. May 23, Ebert’s Greenhouse Village, W1795 Fox Road, Ixonia. Free educational seminar by gardening expert Melinda Myers. Melinda, who will also be available to answer gardening questions. Enter to win a $500 Ebert’s shopping spree with Melinda.

Tyke Hike: 10 a.m. May 23, Lapham Peak State Park, W329 N846, Delafield. Children and their families will hike with a guide and a representative of the Delafield Library will share books, songs and a craft to enhance the experience. Meet at the Lapham Peak Tower. State park sticker is required.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

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