Board OKs deal for largest development in village history

Ansay plan calls for 620 homes, business park, public plaza, Mel’s Charities community
Ozaukee Press staff

The Saukville Village Board last week unanimously approved a development agreement for the Northern Gateway Community Collective Development — the largest development in the village’s history, and one that could put the community on the map.

“It’s an honor and privilege for us to  move forward on this,” Village President Barb Dickmann said before the vote. “This project is the largest and most unique in our history.

“We look forward to the first shovel in the ground.”

The project, proposed by Ansay Development and Three Leaf Partners for 99 acres north of Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly and Camping World, will provide places for people to work and live with as many as 620 housing units ranging from apartments to single-family houses — a quarter of which will be for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities ­— an office and commercial area, 30-acre business park that includes a 130,000-square-foot building for a high-tech employer, a 110-room hotel, day care facility, indoor sports facility, green space and walking trails.

There would also be a public plaza with a splash pad and other amenities to be operated by the village and Mel’s Charities, which will move its offices to the subdivision.

The development is projected to increase the village’s tax base by $157 million, with work slated to begin this fall and be completed by 2033.

But the most unique portion of the project may be the fact that it offers an integrated community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, officials said.

A quarter of the housing will be set aside for adults with IDD, and all of the businesses have ties to Mel’s Charities and have agreed to hire these residents, Ian McCain, Ansay’s design construction manager, said.

Dickmann said the project has been in the making for more than a decade in various iterations.

“This one just feels right because of the Mel’s Charities component, the business park part, the diversity of residents,” she said. “People can live and work all in the same place — that’s just a beautiful thing.”

And as the business park is filled and retail shops move in, they will require employees who will live in the development.

The added residential development alone is an important thing for the village, Dickmann said.

“Earlier this year, Saukville was completely built out,” she said. “We had no lots in the village. If you wanted to build a house, you couldn’t in Saukville.”

With this project and Neumann Development’s Crossroads subdivision, there will be room for residential development in the community — a key in village growth and vitality.

But, Dickmann said, the village needs to take care in fostering the Gateway development because of its size.

“We have to go slow and make sure all our decisions are the right ones,” Dickmann said. “The advantage we have is it will be a multi, multi-year project. The growth, while substantial, will be gradual.”

And that, she said, will allow the village to absorb the impact better.

For example, the development will ultimately require the village to add to its police and public works departments, Dickmann said. But it can do this over the 10 years the development is built, adding as the needs increase and the community can absorb the tax impact.

While some people may have concerns that the Gateway development will create an isolated community within the village, Dickmann said she doesn’t foresee that happening.

“I see us being one cohesive community,” she said. “I’ve always been a believer in balanced growth and having things in Saukville for people to enjoy in Saukville. I think this will give us more of that.”

After all, she noted, the Gateway development includes a plaza for use by both the village and Mel’s Charities and a host of other amenities that will be sought after by everyone in the village.

“It’s like a secondary downtown,” Dickmann said. “But it will feed into the rest of the community.”

The businesses in the Gateway development will require employees, and not all of them will live in the subdivision, Dickmann said. And these employees will patronize the other businesses in the community, as well as the nearby YMCA.

“It all feeds into that area and the village,” she said.

The sheer size of the proposed development can be intimidating, Dickmann acknowledged.

“I know it’s gigantic,” she said. “That’s sometimes scary, but the bottom line is we’re going to be very careful with this to make sure it’s done right.”

The development agreement approved by the Village Board last week doesn’t go into effect until the village creates a tax incremental financing district to help pay for infrastructure improvements.

In a TIF district, the property within the district continues to increase in value and pay property taxes commensurate with that increase, but taxing entities such as the village, county and school district only receive the same amount of taxes they did when the district was created.

Any taxes generated by the development, called increment, are used to pay for infrastructure and similar amenities within the district.

In the case of a pay-as-you-got TIF, the developer pays for the infrastructure initially and those expenses  are repaid with the increment.

Dickmann said creation of the TIF district is the next step in the process, and the village and its financial advisor are already working on it.

Approval of a TIF district takes about three months, she said, so it should be done by the end of 2022.

“Hopefully sooner,” Dickmann said.

That’s good, since Ansay has said it plans to begin work on the Gateway project this fall. Among the first buildings to be constructed is the 130,000-square-foot commercial building, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

There is a tenant for that building, but neither Ansay nor the village has identified the business expected to move in there, although Dickmann said she expects the company to make an announcement soon.



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