Hubbard Park Lodge owner, Shorewood negotiating lease extension

Proposed improvements could lead to more activity in park

June 4, 2013

Shorewood — Shorewood officials are in the process of negotiating a revised lease agreement with Hubbard Park Lodge and Shorewood River Club proprietor Russ Davis, by which Davis proposes to invest an additional $200,000 in improving the River Club building.

The Village Board on Monday publicly discussed the possibility of extending the village's lease with Davis, before further debating the matter in closed session.

No action was taken, but before the board for consideration was a proposal to extend its existing lease with Davis, representing Hubbard Park, LLC, by five years, through Dec. 31, 2024, with an option for extending it an additional five years beyond that date. For the five years from 2020 through 2024, the lease is proposed to increase by $40,000 plus 3 percent each year or 4 percent gross revenue, whichever is higher. If the lease is renegotiated for five additional years, from 2025 through 2029, the proposal indicates the lease amount increase would be capped at 5 percent annually during that time.

In exchange, Davis would invest $200,000 in the River Club, $100,000 of which would be funded with a loan from the village, with a term of 10 years at 3 percent.

Davis has requested that the village consider extending the lease by 10 years, rather than only five years initially with the option of an additional five.

"The reason I want 10 years is if I'm investing this kind of money, I want something solid for myself and my family," Davis told the board on Monday.

Wedding bookings up

To date, Davis has invested about $85,000 in the River Club, including the installation of new flooring and a kitchen remodel that is now in progress, according to a memo from Village Manager Chris Swartz. Since taking over the operation of Hubbard Park Lodge in 2010, Davis said business has increased substantially, with 52 weddings booked at the venue from May through October of this year.

Street parking for the site was recently expanded to both sides of the street, adding about 15 spots, Davis noted, although the issue of parking may still need to be addressed as part of the River Club proposal.

Possible beer garden

Davis described his plans to transform the River Club into a "family friendly" business with a full-service restaurant and possibly an outdoor beer garden, which would include a deck facing the river. The beer garden would be more food-oriented and would feature some local brews, Davis said.

He also mentioned the possibility of installing a playground set between the two buildings as well as adding several bike racks and an air compressor for bicyclists, and potentially creating a weekend bike club.

"By doing more in the park, we create a safer park as well," Davis noted. "I think when more people are around, there's less happening in that park that makes it a problem."

Trustee Michael Maher stressed the need to ensure that the beer garden would not have a negative impact on park users or the surrounding environment. The specifics of the beer garden concept and other plans would need to be reviewed by the village at a later date, Trustee Thad Nation noted.

The proposed agreement stipulates that any improvements would need to be completed by June 30, 2014, and an existing village loan to Davis would need to be repaid by May 1, 2014.

Following closed session discussion, the Village Board directed staff to continue negotiations with Davis.

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