Sale of trailer park land hinges on new TIF district

City is in the process of creating a tax increment area to clear way for senior apartment building on S. Spring St.
Ozaukee Press staff

The City of Port Washington is taking the first steps toward creating a new tax incremental financing district that will encompass one parcel of land — a former trailer park that will be used for senior housing.

Horizon Development, which last year proposed using the land off South Spring Street for a 40-unit, three story apartment building for people ages 55 and older, has obtained the needed tax credits for the project, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

“They are going to be going ahead with the project,” Grams told the Plan Commission recently.

Horizon has an accepted offer to purchase the 2.3-acre former trailer park from the city, which it acquired in 2007 with the intent of redeveloping it.

Key to Horizon’s plans are those tax credits and the TIF district, which Grams said could be created as soon as the end of June.

Unlike the downtown TIF district, which has proven controversial, this one would be a pay-as-you-go TIF where the developer, not the city, pays the cost of development upfront and is repaid through the increased taxes on the land.

“The city will not be putting forward any money for this,” Grams said. “It’s basically taking the taxes and using them for the project and after 15 years, the city gets $280,000 for the land.”

The TIF district is “pretty simple,” he said, since it includes only one parcel.

The city is working on a TIF project plan for the parcel, Grams said, which will go to the Plan Commission next week.

The Joint Review Board, which consists of members of the various taxing agencies involved — such as the county, school district, and vocational district — and a citizen representative, will also meet next week to look at the plan. 

The plan will go to the Common Council for approval, probably in June, Grams said.

“We should be all right with this one,” he said.

The city and Horizon are also working on a developer’s agreement, which should come to the Common Council in the coming month or so, Grams said.

Horizon’s project is intended for seniors with a modest income. Tenants would be required to meet age and income qualifications, Horizon officials said, noting one-bedroom units are expected to rent for between $365 and $845 a month and the two-bedroom units for $761 to $1,000.

The building would have underground parking, a clubroom with a kitchen, outdoor patio, fitness center, storage lockers and secure entries.

The completed project is expected to be valued at $2.8 million, according to Horizon.

Until Horizon came along, there had been little interest in the parcel, which has high tension power lines  crossing it, railroad tracks just to the east of it and a trailer park to the south.

Mayor Marty Becker said the project is important to the city and a pay-as-you-go TIF is the right way to accommodate it.

“It costs us nothing, and it takes care of land we had for years,” Becker said.

Horizon officials have said the company could begin construction in spring 2020 with completion of the project in spring 2021. 


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