artist’s concept of the two four-story commercial
buildings proposed by Hendricks Commercial Properties at
the corner of Main and Genesee streets in Delafield.
DELAFIELD — A Beloit development
company’s plan to build two four-story commercial buildings at the
intersection of Genesee and Main streets is likely to trigger
another debate over the direction of economic development in the
city. Hendricks Commercial Properties is actively promoting its
proposal on the company’s website and among Delafield business
owners even though the plan, according to Mayor Kent Attwell, is
similar to proposals that failed to receive city approval last year.
Attwell says that the new plan — like the previous proposals — does not
meet city codes and is not architecturally compatible with the
historic, colonial theme developed in the downtown business district
by entrepreneur Bob Lang in the 1990s.
One of Lang’s former closest business associates, Rob Gerbitz, is
now president and chief executive officer of Hendricks Commercial
Nearly all the Lang buildings are now owned by Hendricks Commercial
Properties, the city’s biggest landlord.
The company is part of the Hendricks Group, which is owned by Diane
Hendricks, a billionaire businesswoman who owns ABC Supply, one of
the largest suppliers of roofing, windows and siding in the country.
According to the company’s website, the proposed $25 million
development at 705 Genesee Street will employ nearly 300 people
during construction and when completed will generate more than
$300,000 in additional real estate tax revenue for the city.
The plans call for two buildings, one facing Genesee Street and one
facing Main Street.
There would be 24 residential units along with 48,000 square feet of
retail and office space.
In addition to the website, the plans are being promoted in at least
one downtown business.
Attwell told Conley Media he was “surprised and disappointed” when
Gerbitz presented the proposal to the city’s planning staff.
Attwell said the new plan is similar to two other proposals that
were presented to the Plan Commission last year by Gerbitz.
Those plans were sharply criticized by the commission because of the
buildings’ height and urban, industrial style architecture.
The city code restricts downtown buildings to three stories.
Later, Gerbitz in private meetings with the mayor presented two more
alternatives which, according to Attwell, fit the code and might
have been accepted by the commission.
Attwell told Conley Media he does not understand why the developer’s
most recent proposal includes the larger, more industrial appearing
Gerbitz told Conley Media he decided to present the latest proposal
after a citizens group, Delafield Citizens for Responsible Growth,
encouraged him to submit the plans.
“One of our main goals is to inform fellow citizens regarding
economic initiatives that are being proposed and we are looking to
support,” according to a Facebook page promoting the group.
Delafield business executive John Ravaris was apparently
instrumental in organizing the group, according to Gerbitz and
Common Council President Tim Aicher.
Aicher said he met with Ravaris who expressed concern that the city
has an anti-development attitude regardless of the quality of
developments being proposed.
Ravaris has not responded to telephone messages and emails from
Aicher said he believes the developers have made changes in the
design of the buildings “so they look more like an old hotel than a
But he acknowledged the city may be in for another fight over
economic development policy.
During the late 1990s, the Common Council, after months of bitter
debates and demonstrations, opted not to build a municipal water
There have also been battles over proposed developments near the
interchanges of Interstate 94 and Highway C and Highways 83 and 16.
Aicher predicted some city officials will be upset over how
aggressively the developers have been promoting the proposal.
“But I like it when they are in our face. It gets people stirred up
and interested, which gives the council a lot of good feedback,”
<<EARLIER: Delafield development debate
<<EARLIER: Two Delafield development projects stalled