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Old July 18th, 2008, 11:57 PM   #121
ajknee
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DAMMIT!!! I got all excited because I thought there was news.
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Old July 19th, 2008, 12:20 AM   #122
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haha, sorry? I dunno.. I'm just as anxious as you are for this thing. Moderne too.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 07:15 AM   #123
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I was also wondering what is going on with this. It was announced well over a year ago and nothing besides a banner that was blown down in a couple of days about 6 months ago was there. Is ghazi having trouble finding tenants or is the environmental problem more problematic than he thought or what?
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Old July 28th, 2008, 07:17 AM   #124
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Quote:
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DAMMIT!!! I got all excited because I thought there was news.
...
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Old July 28th, 2008, 04:17 PM   #125
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Environmental is definitely not a problem. Like every single project in the City (and most of the country) financing is very difficult at this time.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 04:33 PM   #126
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Large article in this morning's BizJournal.

http://milwaukee.bizjournals.com/mil...ml?t=printable

Friday, August 1, 2008
Ghazi insists downtown project still on
The Business Journal of Milwaukee - by Rich Kirchen

Financial disputes have left unfinished a condo tower and delayed the entertainment complex at his EpiCentre in Charlotte, N.C., but Afshin Ghazi insists they’ll have no effect on his high-profile $200 million Catalyst project proposed for downtown Milwaukee.

Ghazi said in a phone interview this week that the Catalyst is on schedule for groundbreaking in spring 2009 at North Fourth Street and West Wisconsin Avenue across from the Midwest Airlines Center. That’s later than his previously announced schedule of spring 2008 for a 31-story hotel, retail and residential development.

Ghazi initially disclosed in May 2006 his interest in the long vacant, city-owned surface parking lot and updated his plans in October 2007.
“We’re still just as bullish on the project,” Ghazi said.

The only change Ghazi plans is indefinitely postponing the residential portion, which was to consist of about 200 condos and apartments. He said that’s necessary because banks “are not able to finance residential projects” in the current market.

Milwaukee city officials say they’re proceeding with plans to sell the lot to The Ghazi Co., of Charlotte, for $1, and are formulating city financial assistance for the project. Ghazi’s agreement with the city calls for finalizing a development plan and possible tax incremental financing by Sept. 15, said Andrea Rowe Richards, a spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Department of City Development.

“We’re still optimistic about the project based on conversations with the developer,” she said.

Rowe Richards said city officials asked Ghazi about the issues plaguing the Charlotte project, and were satisfied with his response. The proposed Milwaukee development is “a different situation” and Ghazi is working with different partners than in Charlotte, she said.

Soured relationship
Ghazi said all the problems with the EpiCentre in Charlotte stemmed from his relationship with Flaherty & Collins Properties of Indianapolis, which is developing a 42-story condo tower atop one of the five buildings.
Flaherty & Collins refused to pay Ghazi for construction of a parking garage and development rights for the condo tower, saying the structure was improperly built and unfit as the base for the condo tower.

Construction stopped on the 420-unit condo tower after the developers failed to sign an ownership agreement.

“They didn’t have the financial wherewithal or the financing to move forward,” Ghazi said.

On June 2, The Ghazi Co. filed a breach of contract claim against Flaherty & Collins for failure to pay labor and materials, and seeks $92 million in damages. Four days later, Flaherty & Collins filed a $70 million lawsuit in federal court against The Ghazi Co. The lawsuits are pending.

Lee Spinks, a Charlotte attorney representing Flaherty & Collins, disagreed with Ghazi’s characterization of the situation. Spinks said the only thing holding up the condo project is Ghazi’s refusal to sign documents requiring him to comply with his previous promises.

“We had the funding — we had loan commitments,” Spinks said. “He refused to sign.”

Some restaurants and nightclubs at the EpiCentre have opened. Ghazi said a dozen more will open over the next three months, and an Aloft hotel will open in November. Popular bars include Suite, Whisky River, Howl at the Moon and Pavilion.

“The concepts we opened in the EpiCentre are doing phenomenal sales,” he said. “I guess people drink more when times get tough.”

Prior to encountering complications with the EpiCentre in Charlotte, Ghazi in 2006 walked away from a big downtown-area plan in St. Louis.

Won’t disclose tenants
Ghazi still won’t say which tenants are looking at the Catalyst in Milwaukee, or identify the hotel flag he’s pursuing. He said he has lease commitments for more than 50 percent of the commercial space. He’ll disclose the tenants when he receives the final approvals from Milwaukee city officials, he said.
Several observers in the Milwaukee commercial development industry have long been skeptical of Ghazi’s project.

The Ghazi Co. was the only developer that responded to a city request-for-proposals in 2006. The site has remained undeveloped for more than 20 years and at least three previously announced plans never materialized.

However, Rowe Richards said the project is on track. If the development plan and tax incremental financing proposal are finalized by Sept. 15, the next steps will involve seeking approvals from the Redevelopment Authority and the Milwaukee Common Council, she said.

Two companies working with Ghazi in Milwaukee said they’re still pursuing the project under the assumption it will happen.

Kahler Slater Inc. of Milwaukee, the project architect, is still on the project, said Doug Nysse, a principal at Kahler Slater. He declined further comment.
Wispark Inc. remains under contract for Ghazi Co. to buy a parking structure connected to the downtown Boston Store on the south end of the proposed Catalyst site, said Brian Manthey, a spokesman for Wispark corporate parent Wisconsin Energy Corp.

“They’re obviously still trying to pull everything together in a difficult time,” Manthey said.

Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman, whose district includes the Catalyst site, said it’s fine with him that the city continues talks with Ghazi.

“Nobody else is beating the door down for that site,” Bauman said.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 05:18 PM   #127
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That development is essential for that spot. It makes too much sense.

Good news.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 08:19 PM   #128
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Thats good news but it went from a 120 million project to a 200 mil if the first article and last are correct? Still not holding my breath for the spring 2009 break though but at least it seems positive!
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Old September 17th, 2008, 07:32 AM   #129
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http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=795652

Another downtown project delayed
Developer will still pursue Catalyst complex

By TOM DAYKIN
[email protected]
Posted: Sept. 16, 2008

Plans for a major downtown dining and entertainment complex have been delayed by a slowdown in the nation’s retail sector, as well as continued tight conditions among commercial real estate lenders.

The Catalyst project, planned for a city-owned parking lot south of W. Wisconsin Ave. between N. 4th and N. 5th streets, is still alive, developer Afshin Ghazi said Tuesday.

But his Charlotte, N.C.-based development firm, Ghazi Co., missed a Monday deadline to show Department of City Development officials that financing has been secured for the project.

Ghazi said national economic conditions have affected the project’s schedule. He said a year ago that construction could begin by spring 2008.

City officials are still negotiating with Ghazi even though he missed the financing deadline, said Andrea Rowe Richards, Department of City Development spokeswoman. The city and Ghazi are “very close” to moving forward with a proposal for the site, Richards said. She said Ghazi has a 45-day grace period after the deadline.

Ghazi holds a purchase option for the site, which the city has tried to develop for several years. The parking lot is just across Wisconsin Ave. from the Midwest Airlines Center convention hall. If Ghazi can secure financing for the Catalyst, the city will sell the 2-acre lot to his firm for $1.

Ghazi said he’s in discussions with several prospective lenders for the project. The city Redevelopment Authority granted Ghazi the purchase option for the site in March 2007.

Earlier plans called for a $120 million development that would include 150,000 square feet of restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment-oriented businesses, along with a 170-room hotel, offices and about 200 housing units.

The housing and office segments have since been dropped from those plans, Ghazi said Tuesday. He said the prospective retail tenants are still interested in the Catalyst site.

Ghazi has said the businesses interested in Catalyst are attracted by downtown’s growing number of condos and apartments, by its nightlife scene, and by the development’s location near the convention center, U.S. Cellular Arena and Bradley Center.

The nation’s economic slowdown, particularly among retailers, led Chicago developer Richard Curto to drop plans recently for a shopping, entertainment and housing complex on an empty block between N. Milwaukee St. and N. Broadway and E. Lyon St. and E. Ogden Ave.
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Old September 17th, 2008, 01:04 PM   #130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MilwaukeeD View Post
The housing and office segments have since been dropped from those plans, Ghazi said Tuesday. He said the prospective retail tenants are still interested in the Catalyst site.
Ugh. That was one of the main features that I thought was exciting about the project. Obviously a vibrant retail was the most important, as well as a hotel, which is essential based on the location.....

but no housing and office? I dunno, in my opinion, if that is out of the equation, I say they hold out for something better. A random hotel can be built somewhere else, and taht retail can go in Grand Avenue which already has more than enough room available.
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Old September 17th, 2008, 06:26 PM   #131
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Yeah, sounds like it'll be scaled down totally in height then, yes? Sadly, I'd have to say no thanks then. Very disappointing.
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Old September 17th, 2008, 06:26 PM   #132
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Well if the Catalyst is anything like EpiCentre as far as retail. They really mean bars and restaurants so that retail is very different than at the Grand Ave.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 12:38 AM   #133
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http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte...5/daily54.html

that article from today says residential is still in the propsosal.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 04:29 AM   #134
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http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte...5/daily54.html

that article from today says residential is still in the propsosal.

I doubt it. And, if the residential part of the deal is dead, bury the Catalyst.
We don't need a phony entertainment district void of adjacent residents. Unless Ghazi can guarantee the residential component of the development
(25-30 stories), I say hold off until the right developer comes along. This parcel is far too valuable to allow a Class B or C development. We've waited this long, let's not settle for just anything!
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Old September 19th, 2008, 07:22 PM   #135
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The whole point though is that we need/want a new sizeable hotel at this location. Thats the most important component.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 10:36 PM   #136
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But a mediocre hotel can go anywhere, we need a hotel that stands out. if bars and thatres are what everyone was interested in having this there for, I don't think the city is hard up for bars, and a theatre (marcus multiplex) is being proposed down the street.

I really think that that slice of land needs to be dedicated to something truly spectacular. Plopping the first hotel down there that wants it is not a good idea imo.

If a motel 6 wanted to build a 150 room hotel there would everyone just be fine with that? I think not.
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Old September 22nd, 2008, 09:19 PM   #137
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But a mediocre hotel can go anywhere, we need a hotel that stands out. if bars and thatres are what everyone was interested in having this there for, I don't think the city is hard up for bars, and a theatre (marcus multiplex) is being proposed down the street.


Oh, you mean like the theater that Marcus was going to put at PabstCity four years ago?

The theater proposal on Water still requires a major office tenant to get that development off the ground. It was recently reported that Red Prairie, one of the suspected tenants, is no longer looking at downtown.

Call me when Marcus breaks ground...until then...how long should downtown wait until it finally gets a movie theater?
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Old September 22nd, 2008, 10:14 PM   #138
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As long as it takes to build a quality one in the right location. I dont think the entertainment additions to this proposal make it suddenly worth the location either.

Id much rather something well thoguht out be built in the city, than something rushed together, just to fill a gap that is merely cosmetic, and not "needed"
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Old September 23rd, 2008, 08:48 PM   #139
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Rushed together? This proposal has been out there for almost three years.

Merely cosmetic? If anything, this is filling a gap for something that is needed: foot traffic generators near Grand Ave and hotel/entertainment to help the Midwest Center book more conventions.

Downtown has had no major entertainment/retail built in years...really none since the housing boom. What should the city be waiting for?
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Old September 24th, 2008, 01:44 AM   #140
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Also, Ghazi has mentioned that Catalyst has been designed so that it could be built in phases, rather than all at once. It was set up that way in the event that parts of the project that needed more time to be marketed and financed could have more time (such as some 200 residential units, which is a huge undertaking, even when the economy is strong), while allowing other parts that may need less time with marketing and financing to get up and running without having to wait (such as the hotel and retail/entertainment portions of the project).

Assuming Ghazi can successfully work out leases for the main anchor tenants he has planned, and can get the financing he needs in order to build their spaces, he ought to be able to break ground on those parts of the development. The residential portion of the development could very well be built once the housing market picks up again.
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