Ozaukee Washington Land Trust looks to preserve 131 lakefront acres in Port Washington

Part of 240 acres listed for sale by Waukesha State Bank

A lakefront view of the 240-acre property looking north. Courtesy of Waukesha State Bank.

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:32 pm

The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust is looking to preserve a portion of a 240-acre property owned by Waukesha State Bank in the city of Port Washington.

The property is located along Highway C and is approximately one mile south of downtown Port Washington. It includes 1.25 miles of continuous lakefront, sections of which are being considered for a mixed-use development, said Keith Van De Laarschot, Waukesha State Bank commercial business development director.

Listed at $15,900,000, the property was owned by Brookfield-based V K Development Corp. until Waukesha State Bank acquired the property via foreclosure in 2011, Van De Laarschot said.

Lakefront housing and mixed-used developments were previously contemplated for portions of the property, but those plans never came to fruition.

After failed attempts to sell the property as a whole, Waukesha State Bank envisions dividing and selling the large land tract, Van De Laarschot said. The bank recently hired a Green Bay consulting firm to design a viable development plan for the acreage to the north of Cedar Gorge, he added. Those plans will take shape by spring of 2020.

Waukesha State Bank has an accepted offer on 30 acres west of Highway C, which is expected to close in March of 2020. Van de Laarschot said multiple parties have expressed interest in the 131-acres south of Cedar Gorge including the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

“While we’re still in the early stages of bringing this project together, we’re very excited about it and have had productive conversations with Waukesha State Bank,” said Tom Stolp, Ozaukee Washington Land Trust executive director.

A portion of the 131-acre property, known as the Clay Bluffs – Cedar Gorge, is known for its unique bluffs that rise 90 feet above the water. The property also includes a primary environmental corridor, a natural area identified as a critical species habitat site.

Because of the sheer size of the land tract and its proximity to lake Michigan, Stolp referred to the possible deal as a “once-in-a-lifetime lakefront protection opportunity.”

“It’s a great nexus of public access and conservation as well as development which we think is a win-win,” Stolp said. “We believe our conservation to the south will allow for thoughtful and high value development north of the gorge.”

Photos and drone footage of the property can be found here. 

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