Sunday, September 14, 2008

Will the third time be the charm for the riverfront development

According to yesterday’s Oshkosh Northwestern, Akcess Acquisition Group is looking to pull out of the Waterfront development project along the Fox River and is proposing that local developers Andy and Art Dumke take over the project. According to the article Akcess vice president Tim Rikkers says their hopes for a Class A office building, hotel/condominium building and restaurant fell prey to a tough economy, a tight credit market and a major housing slump. Their proposal to hand the project off to the Dumkes would essentially keep the same elements in the project, the article says, but would change how and when the different components to the project would be completed.

I have been a cheerleader for the Akcess folks from the beginning, but have grown increasingly doubtful about their ability to pull it off as delays keep popping up, elements to the project keep changing, and more and more excuses, however valid, are offered. The nail in the Akcess coffin as it relates to this project may have come when there was a recent parting of the ways between Akcess and the Supple Group (and their involvement in the hotel/restaurant part of the development). So we are left with one group wanting out, another seemingly willing to take over and, presumably, with high hopes for success.

While it is true that the Dumkes have show entrepreneurship and realized success here in Oshkosh, is that because they’re local or because they have a silver bullet? Or both? Here’s some food for thought as we contemplate a changing of the guard at this riverfront post. The agreement to taking over the project would require not one, but two, office buildings to be built at this site. If Akcess was unable to get tenants for one, how in the world will you get tenants to fill two? Unless the plans for the type of office building change, etc. But even at that, what will then happen to the other office space in town that is sitting empty, or may end up being vacated for the newer, more scenic space? Moreover, will the same economic woes that plagued Akcess – a tough economy, tight credit market and a major housing slump – not also affect the Dumkes? While it may true that because they’re local, the Dumkes may have somewhat of an easier time navigating these economic waters, but will it be enough to overcome all the obstacles? I guess time will tell.


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