For more than three years, an ambitious plan to replace a half-dozen buildings on 10 acres along West Verona Avenue with apartments, a hotel and retail shops has been in the works, but money has kept it from advancing.
City leaders have expressed interest in helping it along, even creating a tax-increment financing district in 2017 that could provide as much as $5 million to prep the site. And many alders over the years had complained about the aging truck stop on the site, which has since been torn down.
The plans include 284 apartments, 26,000 square feet of retail and a 120-room hotel, and an early version of the plans got city approval on a split vote in 2017, followed by updates in September 2018 and May 2019. But the Common Council met several times in closed session to discuss the project in the summer and fall without an agreement.
Part of the problem appeared to be major changes in the Common Council, a new mayor and a new administrator since the original plans were developed.
Forward Development Group razed the buildings in late May, with the aim of starting construction as soon as June, but missing information slowed the city’s financial analysis and differences over the amount of taxpayer assistance necessary have continued to push back the timeline.
It remains to be seen whether the developer and the city will come up with a suitable agreement in time for this year’s construction season.