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Is it a twisted warm blanket the City of Lake Geneva feels, snuggling closely and tightly about its neck, or is it the coils of a very slow constricting creature waiting patiently to feed upon whatever does not survive its tight grip? That is the question residents, business people, business owners, taxpayers and city leaders must ask themselves. And then have to come up with acceptable answers.

The Keefe real estate company, headed up by Mike Keefe, is ever so slowly entwining itself into every bit of ownership and operation Lake Michael Keefe Lake GenevaGeneva is involved with. Shorewest is out there as a group of realtors doing business at about the same combined volume as maybe three of Keefe’s top producers in a good year. @Properties came in and began a real estate waltz about a year ago, by attracting away some of Keefe’s top producers. But Keefe doesn’t do the gentle lovely waltz. Keefe’s dance is the tango, and there’s nothing gentle or lovely about it. You think there’s no difference, then simply walk into the offices of @properties or Shorewest. Fun, smiling people will invite you in and offer every sort of amenity for your simply being there. Walk into the Keefe bunker. Any Keefe bunker. You will be safe from hurricanes or tornados while you are there, but you will not be allowed to smile. Keefe is about business, and there’s no smiling in business except among losers when dealing with “real” property in their operation.

The City of Lake Geneva has quietly decided that collecting properties’ rent is not what it does best, so it is turning over the collection of Rivera business ownership debts to The Keefe Company. That’s right, the city that collects parking fees, property taxes, utility fees, fine fees, building fees and God knows what else, cannot deal with the complexities of small business property leases. So, with steel toed boots, cleverly made to look like stiletto high heels, the Keefe people moved in. Sterling Works is the first business to get the new business. $5600 a month for the five “summer” months is the new freight charged. The other businesses renewing can expect the same kind of huge increase in their rents. Because the clicking sounds of those stiletto heels don’t come without charge. Keefe knows how to collect money.

They were featured a few weeks back for their version of a property lease. One wonders how any quality businesses survive in the Lake Geneva community. By the way, that lease Bill Briggs is going to pay for is for a space about five hundred square feet in size. Can Bill make it at that rate of return? He thinks so, but then he’s quite the entrepreneur, with a number of his stores across two states. He can manage a long stretch without experiencing any problems in covering his expenses. Can the other businesses in the Riviera complex say the same? The idea that won Keefe the opportunity to crush the little bitty retailers was that the Riviera complex needs not only more variety, instead of the collection of curio and ice cream/candy shops, but that upscale stores are needed in the upstairs of the facility, as well. Did Keefe figure out this complex plan for success by long, hard and bitter experience, or did it spend part of one weekend binge watching the Kevin Costner movie that featured the phrase “if you build it they will come“?

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