epicenter of O‘condo’mowoc
project that created the nickname has divided a portion of
the community into two camps
By Ryan Billingham -
Oct. 23, 2014
The northwest elevation of the
proposed Fowler Lake condominiums.
— It’s the situation that coined the term “O‘condo’mowoc.”
Fowler Lake Village, a proposed condominium development
that would swap land with a development group that owns
a parcel of land near City Hall, has stirred up
controversy in the community.
The $18 million project has inspired the organization of
opposing community groups.
Jeff Seymour and his development partners have an
approved memorandum of understanding with the city. The
MOU lays out the responsibilities of both parties in an
It does not mean that the current project is a sure
thing. The city has a process that all developments must
go through and Fowler Lake Village is still in its
beginning stages. The city agreed to swap the land it
owns behind City Hall, which is primarily a parking lot
used by police vehicles and city workers.
The city would trade the parking lot for property
Seymour owns across the street on St. Paul and and
Pleasant streets. Seymour would then build on the
current parking lot and the city would make the property
across the street replacement parking.
The homes Seymour owns are referred to as blighted
because they have not been sold or rented and have
fallen into disrepair, though the city has not
officially condemned them. The exchange of these homes
for city land has been a major point of contention for
those opposed to the development.
Petitioners at city council meetings have repeatedly
questioned the agreement and scolded Seymour for letting
the homes decay.
East Wisconsin Avenue residents Michele Hollatz and her
husband, Ken, have opposed the project from its outset.
“Very few people — residents of this city — that I have
asked about this ‘land swap’ even know that this is
taking place,” Michele Hollatz said. “The plan seems to
have been constructed behind closed doors, quickly, so
nobody has a chance to speak out against the plan.”
Seymour, who bought the properties during the real
estate boom, explained that the real estate market
dictated the course he took with the homes.
“We have not invested in the homes because the area was
identified as a redevelopment area by the city, and
declared blighted by the city to encourage development
to occur there,” Seymour said. “We were encouraged to do
a project there — not fix up the houses.”
“It was an opportunity offered to me
by the city in 2010, in a very depressed real estate
market,” he said.
The financing for the project will
come though a nearly $7 million loan issued by the city,
which will then be immediately bought by First Bank
The project’s opposition has cited
this as essentially a “bailout” for Seymour that puts
the city at risk.
The entire project is dependent on
Seymour selling at least 70 percent of its value. Fowler
Lake Village will not be built, no money will be loaned,
no property will be swapped unless that goal is met.
The city faces essentially zero
risk, according to attorney Bruce Block,who consults for
the city on TIF districts and other financial matters.
Block said at a city council meeting
recently the obligation of the loan falls on the bank
and that taxpayers will have no obligation on the loan.
>>PART ONE: Social
media has embraced a new word with sarcastic glee, but
is the city really becoming...O'CONDO'MOWOC?
>>PART TWO: Developments
often not as surprising as perceived
hears more Fowler Lake discussion
>>RELATED: Crowd again
attacks Fowler condo project
O‘condo’mowoc series wants you to be part of development
The series ends with more more on
Fowler Lake Village as the city prepares to vote on its
future at its Nov. 4 Common Council meeting, and city
leaders discuss their visions for Oconomowoc’s future.