A plan to put apartments and commercial space at the corner of Fish Hatchery Road and Traceway Drive will use $3.5 million in city taxpayer funding to prepare the property.
The property developer, SFH, LLC, had asked for $3.5 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) to clean up the property before starting construction. The Common Council approved a developer agreement with the TIF included, and voted to rezone the property to allow a mixed-use development.
The plan is to use $3 million to demolish buildings, flatten and clean contaminated soil on the site, the former home of the All-Juice factory and before that, the Bowman Dairy. The rest will fund the continuation of Traceway Drive to the east across the northern side of the development.
TIF is generally considered one of the few tools Wisconsin cities have to encourage development. It pays for infrastructure improvements or development incentives by pooling increased property taxes across all taxing jurisdiction in the TIF district (TID).
Frank Roman, a representative from Minneapolis-based financial adviser Ehlers and Associates, recommended the city approve the use of TIF, saying it meets the “but for” test – that without the TIF, the project would not be able to move forward because of the cost of cleaning up the property.
The financing will come from TID 10, which covers Fish Hatchery Road from Greenway Cross to just south of Traceway Drive. The district was created in 2015 to fund the construction of a hotel off of Pike Drive, but is instead being used to partially fund the reconstruction of Fish Hatchery Road.
Roman said the project would bring significant value to the TID, with $25.5 million in added value at the start of the building’s operation, and would also improve the blight that is the vacant factory property.
“This would assist the city significantly in being able to move projects forward a little bit quicker,” he said.
Preliminary plans show the building at 3101 Fish Hatchery Road would contain 157 apartments on four floors and more than 10,000 square feet of commercial space with a ground-level parking garage. Having the garage at grade rather than underground reduces complications with soil contamination.
The four-floor, U-shaped building would feature a green space over the parking garage. Because Fish Hatchery Road is on a hill, the commercial spaces would be “bookends” of the building, with one set higher in the building than the other.
The two-story commercial space on the north side of the building could be a restaurant, said developer Michael Thorson, managing director of Inventure Capital.