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Developer Asks Tosa for $2M for Parking in ABB Building

First private developer on Innovation Campus wants TIF funds to pay for underground parking beneath building, and other developers to follow will likely follow suit.

The developer for the first private business project at UWM's Innovation Campus on the County Grounds is seeking $2 million in additional city assistance to place below-grade parking under the building.

Zilber Ltd. and ABB Group, the company that will occupy the site, filed an application for tax incremental financing (TIF) assistance before meeting in a closed session Tuesday with administrators and elected officials to discuss the details of their proposal.

City officials had signaled in a Common Council meeting a week before that Zilber was expected to ask for TIF assistance and that it would be to support structure parking — it just wasn't said how much.

City Development Director Paulette Enders confirmed Thursday morning that Zilber is asking for $2 million in public TIF funding and that the money would go into indoor, underground parking at the building.

Enders said the TIF request is all for ABB's building and not associated with a free-standing parking structure identified in the Innovation Campus master plan that would also serve ABB and other future tenants.

If Wauwatosa agrees to the request, it will require amending the TIF District 6 plan created in 2010 to provide roads and utilities to Innovation Campus. That plan called for borrowing about $12.5 million to build Discovery Parkway, access drives and to extend utilities throughout the site.

This will likely not be the last time the city will asked for more TIF support in the area, either. If Mandel Group finally makes a formal proposal, it is expected to request at least $2 million to fill a financing gap for a residential development on the Eschweiler Campus.

Also, in last week's discussion of TIF funding plans, City Administrator Jim Archambo suggested that other private developers signing on to Innovation Campus sites would likely want support for structure parking as well.

ABB's proposed building, at three stories and 95,000 square feet, would house 350 employees and would alone need 405 parking spaces, Dan McCarthy of Zilber Ltd. said Tuesday.

Of those, 100 spaces would be beneath the building, the rest on a surface lot that totals about 360 stalls. But that lot would be later be shared with the tenants of two more projected buildings. Zilber hopes to be chosen as the developer for those as well, McCarthy said, and is planning a 360-stall detached parking structure to accommodate those tenants.

All told, if all three buildings were built and tenanted, they would require nearly 1,000 parking spaces.

The biggest challenge the city faces in amending TIF 6 funding upward now is the uncertainty of Mandel's proposal for the Escweiler tract. That property lies in both TIF 6 and TIF 2, and the city was relying on a successful development there to open up the surplus in TIF 2.

Tuesday night, City Finance Director John Ruggini said that the city was carrying over into 2013 nearly $5 million in TIF 2 funds budgeted for Discovery Parkway. But those funds can only be spent to aid development on TIF 2 property by providing access to it. If no development occurs, that money remains locked.

Discovery Parkway, however, is already under construction and must be finished by late summer of this year under an agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The road is intended to serve as an alternate route connecting Swan Boulevard and Watertown Plank Road traffic during the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange.

The dilemma, then, is that the city is fully committed to spending more than $12 million this year, but nearly half of that money was supposed to come from TIF 2. Without TIF 2 funds, another source would have to be found to make up the difference — presumably by amending TIF 6 sharply upward.

If the city is to approve Zilber's ABB proposal, it commits TIF 6 to possibly another $2 million. And both the city and UWM need ABB to pass muster and build on the site. A successful development would help UWM make its payments to Milwaukee County for the Innovation Campus land; would create $13.5 million in property tax value for Wauwatosa and other taxing entities, including the schools; and is essential to show success in the whole development and attract other tenants.

Nick Schweitzer January 31, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Perhaps, if when the TIF was originally debated under Jill Didier's watch, she hadn't been so concerned with bringing in different Professors from the University to talk about the magic they'd perform there, and people had actually done there job and looked at the finances and the potential risks, all these costs could have been identified up front. Then, when people were voting for the TIF, they would have known what they were putting the City in debt for. Instead, nobody from the Common Council went to the Eschweiler buildings until well after the TIF was proposed and the land was sold to UWM. Somehow, nobody thought that the area for development would shrink, even though the DOT had had an easement on that land for years, and they were already proposing taking that land for the Zoo Interchange construction. And finally, nobody seemed to consider that structured parking would be requested, even though previous plans for that land had considered structured parking a necessity. NONE of those things were taken into account when the $12 million was created for that TIF. Everyone just said... La la la... it'll be fine if we just do sewer and a road. Don't worry. This was either incompetence on the part of the City and our representatives, or outright deceit... knowing that once we were committed... we'd have to spend more to make it viable.
Katherine Collins February 01, 2013 at 04:59 AM
Deal done... Everyone wants this land but only UWM can guarantee saving the buildings. Oh.. saving the buildings just won't work. Now they seek a lower price as they don't have the money. Wow... now ABB seeking a $2M TIF for underground parking. Ooops $2M funding gap. UWM Innovation Center plans are full speed ahead with its $50M building... they have the money for that... no problem. ABB has millions for its building. Does anyone see how idiotic and disjointed this deal is and has been? City officials are selling our community out from under us, wiping out our history, and we're paying the bill. Sad to see these groups of people who believe themselves to be so knowing making these horrendous decisions on our behalf. This saga is sad and outright criminal. Is anyone looking out for the well-being of our community. Does anyone involved even get it?!
Katherine Collins February 01, 2013 at 05:01 AM
Horrendously incompetent....
Tosa Dave February 01, 2013 at 02:28 PM
We cannot keep giving this TIF money away like we all have trees in our yards that produce an unlimited supply of cash. As a Tosa taxpayer for 14 years, please have ABB pay for their own parking lot and start paying closer attention to our best interest.
Namaste February 01, 2013 at 04:34 PM
"Somehow, nobody thought that the area for development would shrink, even though the DOT had had an easement on that land for years, and they were already proposing taking that land for the Zoo Interchange construction." I watched the Budget and Finance meeting when you posed your question whether the land development boundaries were in place when the TIF was created..Archambo said "NO". He was being less than honest, as all the outlots including the DOT easement were all well established before the Real Estate Foundation signed on the dotted line. The land has not "shrunk" since the time the TIF was established. The DOT land was the argument used for moving the boundaries of the site further east and increasing the size of the parcel. In the politifact world...:this would be a "pants on fire"
Cassandra February 01, 2013 at 05:53 PM
I would go with deceit and a general lack of concern for serving the public. The master plan for the site set aside 17.5 acres for future DOT use when it was adopted in 2010. It was known when UWM purchased the land and known when the City did the feasibility study for establishing the TIF. Furthermore, it was used as the reason for needing the make the development parcel larger than the parcel identified in the earlier master plan for the site. Now, they are expanding the development area further by locating the proposed ABB building in an area that was supposed to be used for stormwater retention. Staff should spend more time enforcing the master plan and less time lying to the public and trying to find more money for developers..
Namaste February 01, 2013 at 06:34 PM
The Community Development Authority will be holding a public hearing on Monday February 4th at 12pm (noon) in Committee Room #1--upper level City Hall On the Agenda is the public hearing for proposed amendment to project plan for TIF 6. This is the opportunity for the citizen's to voice their opinions
Mrs. R February 02, 2013 at 02:03 AM
They can ask all they want. Then we will think about how much interest to charge. Oh wait, what about a bond sale? My ideas are no dumber than their extortion exercise.
Betty February 02, 2013 at 07:16 PM
A public hearing Monday at Noon. How convenient for the taxpayers who actually have jobs so they can afford to pay their taxes.
Nick Schweitzer February 04, 2013 at 06:21 PM
@Namaste and Betty Rubble - I believe they also have to go before the Planning Commission which is Feb. 11 at 7 PM. They also take public input there. They don't have an agenda up yet, but that's the most logical step in the process.
Cassandra February 04, 2013 at 10:38 PM
I wouldn't count on it. Lately the plan has been to send approvals via the CDA in order to circumvent the plan commission. Then they send it to Council with no opportunity for public input.

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