1750 Ohio Street (Racine, Wisconsin)

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Coordinates: 42°42′29″N 87°50′15″W / 42.70809°N 87.83757°W / 42.70809; -87.83757

1750 Ohio Street
1750 Ohio Street, 2011.JPG
General information
TypeIndustrial, former retail
LocationRacine, Wisconsin
Construction started1975
OpenedApril 1, 1976
OwnerRogan's Shoes
Design and construction
DeveloperSchostak Brothers and Co.

1750 Ohio Street is a building in the city of Racine, Wisconsin, on the southwestern corner of Byrd Avenue and Ohio Street. The Racine–Sturtevant Trail runs behind the building. It consists of 84,000 square feet of space on the ground floor, with a 16,000-square-foot mezzanine.[1]

Built in 1976 to house Racine's first Kmart store, which moved out of the building in 1992, the building is currently home to the headquarters of Rogan's Shoes, a local footwear retail chain.

History[edit | edit source]

Construction (1974–1976)[edit | edit source]

In 1858[2] and 1873,[3] the future location of 1750 Ohio Street was the southeastern corner of the farm of A. B. Crane. By 1893, the eastern third of Crane's farm had been sold to M. George, who also owned the property to its north. George's 65-acre property was bounded by what is now Washington Avenue on the north, Ohio Street on the east, the Racine–Sturtevant Trail (formerly the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad) on the south, and Perry Avenue on the west.[4] In 1930, this same area was owned by J. E. Rowland & Sons, a local real estate company.[5]

The area surrounding 1750 Ohio Street was annexed by the city of Racine in 1959.[6] The S.S. Kresge Company, owners of the Kmart chain, stated in 1971 that they were considering opening a store in Racine.[7] In March 1974, Schostak Brothers and Co. of Southfield, Michigan proposed building 140,000 square feet of retail space at the site.[8] Schostak's proposal included a supermarket and an 84,000-square-foot space for a discount department store. The Racine Journal Times speculated that Kmart was planning to fill that space, which the S.S. Kresge Company did not deny.[9]

Schostak's initial plan for the site was to be built on a 15-acre plot, which included roughly 13 acres already zoned for light manufacturing (M-1) and 1.7 acres zoned for multiple-family residential housing (R-4). The City Plan Commission rejected Schostak's proposal to rezone those 1.7 acres so that it could be part of their shopping center, saying that the area was zoned residential by the county before it was annexed by the city, and "had been set up as a buffer between residents to the north and the light manufacturing area to the south." It was also concerned that the center's proposed entrance at the south end of Perry Avenue would lead shoppers to use that residential street to get to the Westgate Mall Shopping Center, creating traffic problems there.[6] Schostak revised its plans to avoid using the 1.7 acres, which are now the site of Chateau I and II Apartments. Local residents opposed to the development proposed in June 1974 that the city's zoning ordinances should be changed, so that shopping centers could no longer be built in areas zoned for light manufacturing.[10]

Regardless of zoning issues, the proposed development was unpopular among local residents. The Racine Unified School District wrote to the city plan commission in opposition, saying it was concerned that a shopping center at the location would create problems for the nearby Giese Elementary School and Starbuck Junior High School. City director of planning Thomas Wright described the site as "the worst place in the world for a commercial enterprise", and the city plan commission rejected the proposal in a 4–3 vote.[11]

Schostak returned to the city plan commission in September with a modified version of the proposal. The new plan downsized the building from 140,000 to 114,000 square feet, removing the smaller retail spaces that would have been attached to the Kmart and the supermarket. While the revised plan did not eliminate the concerns of local residents, one previously skeptical member of the planning commission was convinced, and the new proposal was approved in a 4–3 vote.[12] The Racine City Council protested the decision during their October 1 meeting, voting 11–7 in favor of asking the city plan commission to reconsider,[13] which the commission later rejected.[14]

As Schostak prepared to begin construction in June 1975, it stated that only the Kmart would be built at first, leaving the supermarket as a possible future addition to the west.[15] On June 13, a subcontractor hired by grading contractor A. W. Oakes & Son illegally cut down seven oak trees along Byrd Avenue and Ohio Street, which Schostak had previously agreed to keep on the site. Schostak described the felling as an oversight caused by its failure to instruct its subcontractors to leave the trees standing,[16] and agreed to replace the trees with "the best trees available" at any cost.[17] Grading on the site was halted again at the end of June by a statewide strike of Operating Engineers Local 139, the construction equipment engineers' union.[18]

In October 1975, nearly $2,000 worth of copper wire belonging to McGraw Electric was stolen from the construction site.[19] On October 28, the city plan commission approved Schostak's proposal to replace the seven illegally felled oaks with forty new trees purchased from Clauss Bros. of Roselle, Illinois, and install a drainage system for the new trees, with an expected cost of about $45,000.[20]

Kmart #4477 (1976–1992)[edit | edit source]

The Kmart store shortly before its grand opening in 1976, photographed by Arthur P. Hass.

The Kmart store, store #4477, opened on April 1, 1976, on time for Kresge's plans to have the store ready for the Easter shopping season.[21] The opening was unaffected by a nationwide Teamsters strike going on at the time, which included the store's delivery drivers.[22] The Kmart store was granted a license to serve fermented malt beverages in September 1981.[23] In 1983, the store was one of five Kmarts in Wisconsin to offer home improvement merchandise in a "Homecare Center" department.[24]

In October 1988, Kmart Corporation became the first retailer to agree to open a store at the proposed High Ridge Centre shopping complex, less than a mile away from its existing store, and said that it would close store #4477 upon opening its new store there.[25] After several delays, and after the opening of Kmart #3851 at Greentree Centre across town in 1991, Kmart Corporation took control of the High Ridge property from its original developer. The store at 1750 Ohio Street probably closed on August 8, 1992, hours before the soft opening of its replacement, store #3774. The building's Kmart sign was removed on August 13, during the new store's grand opening ceremony.[26]

Incidents[edit | edit source]

  • On November 15, 1976, camera equipment and a CB radio valued at $1,600 were stolen from a car in the store's parking lot.[27]
  • On June 21, 1978, three Racine teenagers were injured in a motorcycle collision directly behind the store.[28]
  • On May 13, 1979, a Caledonia woman was injured when she slipped and fell on a slippery floor at the store, and later sued the store for $100,000 in damages in April 1982.[29]
  • On June 26, 1983, at 4:12 p.m., the Racine Fire Department was called to extinguish a grass fire on the property.[30]
  • On November 1, 1983, the Kmart Auto Center performed a routine wheel replacement which was allegedly done improperly, leading the car's wheel to fall off and cause a traffic accident two days later. The children of the car's owner, who was injured in the accident, sued Kmart for negligence, seeking $232,500 in damages.[31]
  • On June 3, 1984, three video recorders with a total value of $1,427 were reported missing and presumed stolen from the Kmart store.[32]
  • On November 17, 1984, at about 6 p.m., the Kmart store was robbed of $1,200 by a man claiming to have a gun.[33] A 30-year-old Milwaukee man was convicted of the robbery.[34]
  • On December 5, 1985, a 37-year-old Burlington woman and a 17-year-old girl were arrested for shoplifting at Kmart, and police allegedly discovered evidence in the woman's car that she had also shoplifted from the nearby Shopko store #27 at 4801 Washington Avenue.[35]
  • On December 24, 1985, a Racine man slipped and fell on ice and snow in the Kmart parking lot, later suing the store for $270,000 in damages.[36]
  • On February 7, 1989, a television caught fire in the store, and the fire department was called at 9:10 p.m.[37]
  • On September 28, 1989, a cash register valued at $3,000 became missing and presumed stolen after it was left unattended on a patio outside the store.[38]
  • On May 21, 1991, pallets behind the store caught fire and the fire department was called at 1:50 p.m.[39]

Vacancy and Rogan's Shoes (1992–present)[edit | edit source]

The abandoned building, photographed in 1995 by Mark Hertzberg, with a cart from Shopko store #27 in the foreground.

With the closure of the Kmart store, the building was left vacant. Kmart's 25-year lease would not expire until April 30, 2001, leaving the retailer to look for tenants to sublet the building.[40] Johnson Worldwide Associates, a sporting goods manufacturer and distributor controlled by S.C. Johnson & Son, considered moving its headquarters into the building in 1993 along with several other sites, but ultimately decided to construct a new building at 1326 Willow Road in Sturtevant.[41]

Old Colony Baking Company of Northbrook, Illinois offered a proposal to use the building for a commercial bakery in 1996, with city officials agreeing to rezone the property for industrial use, but the plans never materialized. Angel Lithographing, a local printing company, agreed in 1998 to sublet 30 percent of the former retail floor, for binding materials printed at its main facility at 1800 Layard Avenue.[1] In May 1999, the parking lot was used by the Racine Fire Department for apparatus training exercises.[42]

About a week after Kmart's lease expired, in early May 2001, local footwear retail chain Rogan's Shoes agreed to purchase the building to use it as their new headquarters office and warehouse. It took several months to complete the deal because of legal complexities, and Rogan's ultimately moved out of its former headquarters at 2913 Carlisle Avenue in 2002.[43] During the renovation process, in February 2002 a scaffold valued at $1,500 was stolen from the site.[44] Angel Lithographing continued to lease some of the space until it moved to 2700 90th Street in Sturtevant in 2008.[45] As of 2020, the building remains the Rogan's headquarters.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Burke, Michael. "Vacant Kmart draws little interest from buyers", Racine Journal Times, February 23, 2000.
  2. "Redding & Watson's Map of Racine County - 1858", racinecounty.net.
  3. "Map of Racine and Kenosha Counties - 1873", racinecounty.net.
  4. "Map Drawing - East End of Racine County - 1893", racinecounty.net.
  5. "Racine County Map Book - 1930", racinecounty.net.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Plan Board Opposes K mart Rezoning", Racine Journal Times, March 28, 1974, pages 1A and 3A.
  7. "K Mart Considers Racine", Racine Journal Times, June 23, 1971, page 6C.
  8. "Propose Shopping Center", Racine Journal Times, March 20, 1974, front page.
  9. "K mart Believed to Be Store for Proposed City Development", Racine Journal Times, March 22, 1974, front page.
  10. "Obstacles to confront request for K mart", Racine Journal Times, June 6, 1974, front page.
  11. Herman, Robert J. "Plan agency turns down K mart shopping center", Racine Journal Times, June 13, 1974, front page.
  12. "K mart construction ok'd", Racine Journal Times, September 25, 1974, pages 1A and 3A.
  13. Herman, Robert J. "Aldermen talk about zoning, parks, police, sewers", Racine Journal Times, October 2, 1974, page 5A.
  14. "K-mart site approval stands", Racine Journal Times, October 10, 1974, page 4A.
  15. Pfankuchen, David. "Construction of K mart to begin within 3 weeks", Racine Journal Times, June 1, 1975, page 1D.
  16. Pfankuchen, David. "7 oaks illegally cut at site for K mart", Racine Journal Times, June 17, 1975, front page.
  17. Frahm, Robert A. "Oaks will be replaced", Racine Journal Times, June 23, 1975, front page.
  18. Pfankuchen, David. "Strike slows construction", Racine Journal Times, June 17, 1975, page 3A.
  19. "Police beat", Racine Journal Times, October 21, 1975, page 3A.
  20. Herman, Robert J. "40 trees to replace 7 lost oaks", Racine Journal Times, October 29, 1975, front page.
  21. Pfankuchen, David. "K mart will open Thursday", Racine Journal Times, March 28, 1976, page 12A.
  22. "Teamster strike impact light here—so far", Racine Journal Times, April 1, 1976, page 1E.
  23. "License and Welfare Committee Report", Racine Journal Times, September 5, 1981, page 4B.
  24. Advertisement, Racine Journal Times, November 2, 1983, page 28.
  25. Sumner Coon, Laura. "K-mart signs as tenant for High Ridge Plaza", Racine Journal Times, October 21, 1988, page 3A.
  26. Holley, Paul J. "Kmart opens to packed house", Racine Journal Times, August 14, 1992, page 3A.
  27. "Police beat", Racine Journal Times, November 16, 1976, page 3A.
  28. "Police", Racine Journal Times, June 22, 1978, page 1B.
  29. "Courts", Racine Journal Times, April 22, 1982, page 3B.
  30. "Racine Fire Calls", Racine Journal Times, June 27, 1983, page 3A.
  31. "Courts", Racine Journal Times, June 19, 1984, page 5A.
  32. "Police", Racine Journal Times, June 4, 1984, page 5A.
  33. "Police", Racine Journal Times, November 18, 1984, page 4A.
  34. "Courts", Racine Journal Times, April 9, 1985, page 5A.
  35. "Christmas stealing?", Racine Journal Times, December 6, 1985, page 4A.
  36. "Courts", Racine Journal Times, June 17, 1987, page 5A.
  37. "Racine Fire Calls", Racine Journal Times, February 9, 1989, page 5A.
  38. "Police", Racine Journal Times, September 29, 1989, page 5A.
  39. "Racine Fire Calls", Racine Journal Times, May 22, 1991, page 5A.
  40. "Kmart putting 205 stores on auction block", Racine Journal Times, July 2, 1995, page 9A.
  41. "JWA plans building", Racine Journal Times, December 8, 1993, pages 1A and 11A
  42. City council minutes, resolution no. 2438, Racine Journal Times, May 12, 1999, page 5D.
  43. "Rogan Shoes moving offices across town", Racine Journal Times, November 20, 2001.
  44. "Police/Crimewatch", Racine Journal Times, February 23, 2002.
  45. Buker, Michael. "Angel in Sturtevant: New press means moving from Racine for local printer", Racine Journal Times, February 26, 2008.