Village poised to pave way for sweeping development

Plan for Ansay Gateway project calls for as many as 620 homes, Mel’s Charities public plaza on Saukville’s east side

THE PLAZA ON the south end of the Northern Gateway project, known as Mel’s Village in honor of Mel’s Charities, is shown in the foreground of this rendering by the architectural firm Rinka +, which is working with Ansay Development and Three Leaf Partners to create the development. The plaza, which would have a splash pad and stage, would be surrounded by a variety of shops, restaurants, an indoor sports venue, hotel and other amenities.
Ozaukee Press staff

The Saukville Village Board was poised to act Wednesday afternoon on a development agreement that would pave the way for the Northern Gateway Community Collective, a massive development that will change the face of the village’s east side.

The project, proposed by Ansay Development and Three Leaf Partners for 99 acres north of Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly and Camping World, by Ansay Development, 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, according to the proposed development agreement.

Work on the project is expected to begin this fall and be completed by 2033, the agreement states.

The project is intended to not only create an economic, entertainment and cultural center for the village but to also provide a sustainable source of funding, activities, jobs and awareness for Mel’s Charities and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to Ansay officials.

“We think this is a game-changer for Saukville and for the region,” Ian McCain, Ansay’s design construction manager, said.

That’s especially true because of the way the development integrates services for people with disabilities into everyday life, he said.

“I don’t know of any development in the state that combines housing for (adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities), employment for IDD individuals and programming for IDD individuals,” McCain said.

Not only is 25% of the housing intended for residents with disabilities, the retail businesses that have signed letters of intent to move to the development all work with Mel’s Charities and have committed to hiring these residents, he said.

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 40 people packed the Village Board room on Monday, when the board was initially expected to act on the development agreement, but Attorney Alan Marcuvitz, who is working with the village, said the matter would be postponed until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31.

That, he said, would give the  village time to disseminate the agreement to anyone who’s interested in the matter and provide them an opportunity to weigh in.

“We’re better off taking this two-day interval,” he said, noting it will help prevent any potential pushback in the future.

Kevin Winter of Cedarburg, who has severe epilepsy and uses a wheelchair, urged the board to approve the development in an address that garnered applause from the audience and officials.

“This project can set dozens and dozens of people free to become members of a community like we have never seen,” he told the board. “God has given each one of us a talent. A yes vote today will give people the opportunity to show their talent in a way they haven’t in the past.”

Winter said that when he first heard about the project, which will provide opportunities for people with disabilities to work and live alongside those without disabilities in an accessible community, his reaction, like those of many others, was “Yeah, right. I’ll believe it when I see it.”

“With this project, we can give them something they can see,” he said, adding, “The reality is that living independently is not something that I see right now ... If this project works, that becomes a possibility.”

The development consists of a north and south campus. The north campus has a mix of housing, including units for senior citizens, and a business park.

The business park would include a 130,000-square-foot building to be occupied by a local commercial business that plans to initially have as many as 100 employees and over time significantly increase that number, McCain said, operating two shifts.

The south campus, called Mel’s Village, would largely center on the plaza, which is expected to become a community gathering space, McCain said. Surrounding the plaza would be a hotel, shops and restaurants, a child-care center and an indoor sports facility as well as housing.

The housing throughout the development would include apartments, townhomes and single-family houses, McCain said. They would not be high-end units but market rate housing.

“They’re for everyone,” he said. “There is an incredible need for housing in the county right now, and what people need are options.”

Work on the development is slated to begin this fall, McCain said, noting that work will include infrastructure development and construction of the large commercial building, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

The development agreement sets out many of the terms for the project, which will require what is known as a pay-as-you-go tax incremental financing district.

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-go TIF, the developer pays for the infrastructure initially and those expenses  are repaid with the increment.

In the case of the Gateway project, the village agrees to repay as much as $21.5 million plus as much as 6.25% interest, according to the proposed development agreement.

Ansay and Three Leaf will receive 58% of the increment annually while the village will keep 15%, the agreement states. If the developers are not fully reimbursed by the time the TIF ends, the village will extend the timeframe as long as possible.

If the developers haven’t recouped their expenses when the district expires, they will have to assume the debt.

The development agreement, even if it is approved Wednesday, would not go into effect until the village creates the TIF district.

The agreement also calls for the developer to reimburse the village for staff time and professional fees and costs associated with the project.

The agreement requires the developers to begin construction of at least one building in the traditional neighborhood development district on the north end of the site by Jan. 1, 2024.

The plaza shall be owned by the developer or Mel’s Charities, and the developers shall also retain ownership of the private roads and trails, according to the agreement.


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