Board likes plan for Port’s third TIF district

Panel members praise proposal for senior apartment building on former trailer park site off South Spring St.
Ozaukee Press staff

Creation of Port Washington‘s newest tax incremental financing district off Highway 32 on the city’s south side took a step forward Tuesday.

The Joint Review Board — primarily made up of representatives of the area’s taxing jurisdictions and a citizen — had positive things to say about the project that would create a 40-unit senior apartment building on a former trailer park.

“I think it’s a good use of the site,” Eric Ryer, a citizen representative on the board, said. “It’s an interesting site, an interesting location.”

“It’s an exciting project,” member Wilma Bonaparte, who represents Milwaukee Area Technical College, said.

The vacant property at 900 to 910 S. Spring St., which is owned by the City of Port, is adjacent to an existing trailer park and railroad tracks, making it a difficult parcel to sell and develop, officials noted.

The building and site plans for the project also received a nod from the city’s Design Review Board Tuesday and will be considered by the Plan Commission Thursday, May 16.

“It’s very handsome,” board member Jeremy Hartline said. “There are some nice residential touches to it.”

Horizon Development has proposed the senior apartment project, which would provide affordable housing to older adults in the area.

The project was recently awarded Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority tax credits, which require the rent restrictions, said Will Rutherford, a development associate with Horizon.

But even with those restrictions, Rutherford said, many community members will be able to rent the units since income, not assets, are considered.

The city has also committed to a pay-as-you-go TIF district, in which the developer, not the city, would pay the upfront cost of development and be repaid a portion of the money through increased taxes on the land, for the project.

The estimated $30,000 annually received through the TIF would be used to deal with such things as removal of a building foundation buried on the property, wetland issues, utility costs and issues with the planned underground parking, Rutherford said.

The city expects the life of the TIF district to be about 22 years, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

The total amount given to Horizon will be capped, he said.

“If they receive that amount by year 18 or 19, we can dissolve the TIF district then instead of in year 22,” he said.

According to the project plan, Horizon would receive 95% of the additional taxes on the property annually with the city receiving 5% to cover its administrative costs.

Several board members asked if Horizon had considered incorporating the adjoining trailer park in its plan for the property.

Rutherford said that Horizon officials had talked to the owner of the park, but “while he’s motivated to free up the capital he has invested, he’s looking for a rather aggressive purchase price.”

The apartment building will be screened from the trailer park, perhaps through the use of landscaping or a berm, he added.

Horizon’s plan calls for a three-story building with a mix of one and two-bedroom units as well as a clubroom and fitness center.

There will be underground parking for the residents, as well as a small surface parking lot.

Architect Dale Streitenberger told the board that the community nature of the apartment building is what will make it successful.

“People want companionship. When they come here, they have a neighborhood,” he said.

Rutherford said the typical renters are 80% single women, 10% single men and 10% couples.

If all goes well, he said, Horizon would like to begin construction in October.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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