Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

    Development is starting to crop up around the Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center in Sheboygan.
    The 300,000-square-foot, $54 million resort opened last year on the east side of a peninsula between Lake Michigan and the Sheboygan River in downtown Sheboygan. The resort has 183 guest suites, 64 condominiums, a 40,000-square-foot waterpark, a 29,000-square-foot conference center, a 3,000-square-foot spa and four full-service restaurants.
    The city invested heavily to clean up and redevelop the peninsula, a former brownfield once owned by the C. Reiss Coal Co., which stored large piles of coal there years ago. The city borrowed $8.2 million, which will be paid back with hotel room tax revenue, to build the conference center. The city also provided a $4 million loan, which will be paid for with tax increment finance (TIF) district funds, to support the resort project as the anchor for the redevelopment of the peninsula.
    In addition, the city spent about $12 million to acquire the peninsula and install infrastructure so it could be developed. The infrastructure cost will be paid for with $2 million in state and federal grants and about $10 million in TIF funds. The total public investment in the peninsula’s redevelopment is about $24 million.
    That investment is starting to pay off as other businesses are making plans to join the resort on the peninsula:
    — Sheboygan residents Tom Fogle and Doug Hamm plan to build the Triple Play Fun Zone, a two-story 38,000-square-foot sports and recreational complex across the street from the resort’s water park.
    — Marion and John Kuether are building Jomaji Salon and Spa, which is under construction along the river on the south end of the peninsula.
    — Kohler resident John Smith plans to build an Irish restaurant and pub, called Doyle’s on Blue Harbor, along the river on the peninsula.
    On its first floor, Triple Play Fun Zone will have a 30-foot rock climbing wall, an 18-hole indoor miniature golf course, a 2,200-square-foot laser tag area and batting cages for baseball and softball.
    The second floor of Triple Play Fun Zone will be designed largely for baseball and softball training. It will have batting cages with video equipment and a video room where coaches can analyze hitting techniques. However, the biggest feature on the second floor will be a full-sized infield, with Major League Baseball dimensions, including 90-foot basepaths, a 36- to 40-foot high roof and a field turf playing surface, the same surface used at Camp Randall Stadium, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s football stadium.
    Baseball players will be able to play games on the infield year-round. If a batter hits a ball over the infield, it will hit a wall, which will be marked with different colors to signify if the batter will be credited with a hit or an out. The field will have a portable pitcher’s mound so it can also be used for soccer or other activities.
    Triple Play Fun Zone also will have an 18-hole miniature golf course on the roof of the building, providing players with panoramic views of Lake Michigan.
    The resort, which is marketed primarily toward families, will provide a supply of customers for Triple Play Fun Zone. The facility’s location near the resort is critical, but it will also provide an entertainment venue for area residents, Fogle and Hamm said.
    "I’ve been born and raised in Sheboygan, and it’s a need for our community," Fogle said. "Secondly, it’s a complement to the Blue Harbor for their guests."
    The facility will cost about $4.7 million to build and equip, they said. They hope to begin construction in April and open in the fall.
    The Jomaji and Doyle’s buildings will look like commercial fishing shanties, similar to the structures, most of which house retailers, on the opposite side of the river.
    Smith said his Irish pub and restaurant could be built and open for business by the end of the summer. He expects the resort to provide a steady flow of customers and to attract more development to the peninsula, making it an attractive place for a restaurant.
    "The key for me is the Blue Harbor hotel and waterpark," Smith said. "It adds a year-round destination to part of the market we should be drawing from. With the full development of the (riverfront retail) shanties over the next few years, it will be a vibrant business opportunity."
    City officials are hoping to attract more retail and some residential and office development to the peninsula. The office development will be kept to a minimum, said Paulette Enders, director of planning and development for Sheboygan. Any proposed multi-family residential development will be considered, but no single-family residential development will be allowed, she said.
    "We’re trying to create a 24-hour community (on the peninsula) and connect that parcel to the rest of the downtown," Enders said.
    City officials are negotiating with a developer interested in the former Reiss Coal Co. office building on Eight Street near the entryway to the peninsula, Enders said. City officials also are talking to two to three other developers for projects on the peninsula, she said.
    All of the land on the peninsula is owned by the city’s redevelopment authority and is leased to developers.
    "We do that to maintain control over the lakefront and the riverfront," Enders said.February 4, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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    Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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