The Riviera Pier Complex cost $55,000 to build in 1932.
That’s just over one million dollars in today’s money, taking inflation into account. Now the repairs, external and internal are going to amount to almost seven million dollars, or a few more if they decide to sprinkle the place (it’s grandfathered in so they don’t have to, but it sure would be wise with a kitchen on the second floor).
Seven million borrowed dollars. Is it worth it?
Well, there’s this company up in Elkhorn called Kehoe-Henry and Associates, Inc. That company is something indeed. They submitted a report on the Riviera’s condition, inside and out in June of 2017. The place hasn’t improved much since that report, except for the outside three million of work MSI general contracted for. The interior expenditure and detail of work to be done are being debated by the new redevelopment committee as this is being written. The report by Kehoe is intensely detailed and the critical nature of some of the repairs and redevelopment are outlined in almost “neon” brilliance. The elevator has to be fixed and fast. The liability of putting people on the current mess of an Otis is apparent and real. From the report, it looks as though the elevator shouldn’t be running until repairs are made. The nature of the 2013 inspection of the pilings holding up the building that cannot be inspected as (all the wooden poles driven down to bedrock are buried in a sand peninsula surrounded by an underwater brick wall. The poles are to be assumed to be in good shape all through these years simply because the building is still standing and not canting over in any direction. The Kehoe report didn’t say it exactly, but another deeper look needs to be taken at those pilings, however that would be done.
This is a big project. Interesting expenses brought some surprises: The radiantly heated new front concrete stairs would cost $160,000 but only $21,000 would be for the heat. The cost of filing for historical status with the Historical Society is over $10,000, and that’s a biting little surprise. The renovation of the kitchen would only be $31,000. That sad Otis elevator would take $66,000. The question becomes one of no questions at all. The city of Lake Geneva is not ready and cannot tear the structure down without shooting itself massively in its imaginary big toe, so the work must be done. It’s kind of a “damn the torpedoes…” kind of a thing. Fred Gahl, the chairman of the fundraising campaign for the Riviera basically said it all when he told the assembled committee that the Riviera is a business. It needs to charge much more for events, rental of commercial space, and even pier lease payments in order to make the place pay for itself instead of depending upon debt and then debt service to get by.
Cartoon of The Week
The Tourism Commission met Wednesday, July 8th, and the members had to get acclimated with new policies and procedures. The public is now required when attending city meetings to “check-in” and provide name, address, phone number, and whether or not they would like to make any public comments. Once everyone got adjusted and the new committee members were brought up to speed, the discussions began. The biggest items to discuss were the grants that were already approved earlier this year for events that were planned for 2020. The Geneva Lake Museum requested for its grant be pushed into 2021 since it could not get its Gary Gygax (of Dungeons and Dragons fame) display ready in time for this year. The vendors and private collectors lending items to the museum will be ready to send their items at the beginning of next year. This will be a permanent display, with items revolving to keep it new and exciting. The museum plans on having a soft opening for locals in February of 2021, and a grand opening in March. “Art in the Park” is still happening this year on August 8th and 9th and will be using its grant, as previously awarded, for advertising. Bacon Fest has been pushed into May of 2021. The committee was not sure exactly how to proceed with all these requests, as there is no policy on when grants have to be used by or an expiration date. All the requests for this year’s grants were approved.