Board unanimously OKs Port’s fourth TIF district

Members agree that senior apartment complex is ‘perfect project’ for frequently used financing mechanism
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Port Washington‘s fourth tax incremental financing district is reality.

The city’s Joint Review Board unanimously approved the district Friday, with members calling the proposed senior apartments planned for a former trailer park on South Spring Street an ideal TIF project.

“It seems to be the perfect project for it,” board member Rick Nelson said.

The TIF district encompasses only the 2-26-acre former trailer park, which the city purchased in 2007 and which Horizon Development wants to purchase. 

“This is the first really strong company that’s looked at it,” City Administrator Mark Grams said. “The rest looked at it and said, ‘Goodbye.’”

That’s because the property is bounded by railroad tracks on the east, a trailer park to the south and has electrical high lines crossing it.

This project, Grams added, “fits the needs of the city. We’re pretty well ready to go (ahead) with it.”

Horizon’s project would create a three-story, 40-unit senior living apartment building for people ages 55 and older on the site.

The TIF district boundaries and a project plan for the senior apartments were recently approved by the Common Council, leaving the review board’s action as the final step in the process of creating the district.

The plan declares the former trailer park as a blighted site and estimates the value of the completed senior living project at $1.95 million.

Will Rutherford, a development associate with Horizon, told the board that the company had identified a need for affordable senior housing in the city that it is committed to filling.

The city land was a key component of the firm receiving tax credits for the project, Rutherford said, adding the credits are a major source of funding for the project.

  The TIF district will also provide incentives that make the project possible.

The district is a pay-as-you-go TIF, so the developer, not the city, pays the costs upfront and is reimbursed through increased taxes on the land.

Horizon will receive $754,348 over the life of the district — $380,000 more than originally planned — to recoup the cost of unexpected soil work on the property.

“There needs to be significant subsurface improvements to build anything,” Rutherford said. “The soil conditions are not suitable for any type of structure on the site.”

The life of the district was also extended five years to allow Horizon to recoup its costs.

The city will receive $39,703 through 2046 to cover its administrative costs.

Aldermen recently approved a license agreement with Horizon that will allow the firm to do initial site work before it purchases the property from the city in spring.

Rutherford said its contractors have been out to the site and plan to begin some site work there next week.

The contractors will be creating a trench and digging a portion of the stormwater retention pond on the site to help promote surface water drainage, he said.

That should help Horizon begin construction of the apartment building next spring.

“We’re hoping to start in March,” Rutherford said, acknowledging that weather will be a factor in when the work begins. It will take 11 to 12 months to complete the project, he said.

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