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Week Ahead: Qdoba Coming to Village; 2 Panels to Consider TIF Changes

New businesses and changing businesses are on the agenda, and plans push forward for UWM's Innovation Campus.

Change being the only constant, Wauwatosa will this week consider alterations of operators, of occupancy, of hours, building sites and of public investment in a variety of business developments.

The Plan Commission, meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, will hear requests to open a Qdoba restaurant in the Village, for extended hours at the Rosebud Cinema, a turnover of Hawks Nursery operations to Stein Gardens & Gifts, and an amendment of a tax-incremental finance plan to allow investment of TIF funds for private parking stalls on UWM's Innovation Campus.

Qdoba wants to open in the retail and office center at 1417 Wauwatosa Ave. anchored by Starbuck's at one end and by Baskin-Robbins and Breadsmith at the other. Qdoba is asking for a conditional use to operate in both of two adjacent vacancies next to Starbuck's, one of which was formerly a Little Caesars pizza place.

The Redmond Co., a commercial design firm, is seeking permits for the makeover. Qdoba was founded in 1995 in Denver and now has more than 600 casual Mexican restaurants. It has been owned since 2003 by Jack in the Box.

The Rosebud Cinema, 6823 W. North Ave., is asking to extend its operating hours. The cinema is asking permission to stay open until 3 a.m. for late shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Currently, the Rosebud is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and until 9:45 p.m. the rest of the week. Under its current approvals, it already could run later, until midnight on Thursdays and 2:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

As already reported, Stein Gardens & Gifts wants to lease and take over the retail garden center operations of Hawks Nursery, 12217 Watertown Plank Road. Hawks intends to continue it landscaping services business.

First land sale on UWM tract requires Plan approval

Also on the Plan Commission agenda are two items related to the development of Innovation Campus on the County Grounds.

The UWM Real Estate Foundation, which purchased the property in 2009 from Milwaukee County, is seeking a land division to allow it to sell 2 acres .

The sale is considered critical to both UWM and Wauwatosa in establishing Innovation Campus as a success. So far, the only project going forward on the site has been the 24,000 square foot UWM Accelerator building, a tax-exempt property paid for through a federal Economic Development Administration grant.

ABB is a multinational industrial automation giant based in Switerland and considered on par with Rockwell Automation in the United States. ABB has more than 100,000 employees worldwide and some $40 billion in annual sales.

ABB's initial presence on Innovation Campus would bring 350 jobs, many of them high-paying professional positions, from the company's current location in New Berlin. The building plan calls for three stories and a total of 95,000 square feet.

TIF District amendment calls for revised site plan

However, the ABB building, and others proposed for Innovation Campus, have been repositioned from where they were intended in the 2010 master site plan. Changes in the Department of Transportation's Zoo Interchange design pushed a cloverleaf ramp into the southwest corner of the development zone, which in turn prompted UWM to push all its building site plans farther north.

The Plan Commission will consider an amendment to the Business Planned Development approving the altered siting.

That does not sit well with those with environmental, open space and aesthetic concerns, as the move of building footprints to the north encroaches on planned bio-engineered stormwater features that also created a buffer of green space between the Eschweiler Historic District and the nearest Innovation Campus buildings.

Changes to the overall design and development of Innovation Campus prompted Cheryl Nenn of Milwaukee Riverkeeper to speak out at last week's Community Development Authority meeting, where the amendment was given first approval, and to publish a scathing critique in the Crossroads section of the Sunday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Parking structures a big part of the UWM picture

The ABB building plan also calls for having 405 parking spaces in or near the building, and that is the main impetus for a third item of Innovation Campus business that will be considered by the Budget and Finance Committe at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The city's TIF District No. 6 was created in 2010 to support the Innovation Campus development through public financing of public-owned infrastructure – roads and utilities to access and serve the technology center.

But with only about 32 acres of development space available out of the 89 acres the UWM Foundation purchased – some of that taken up by stormwater detention features – surface parking lots alone would eat up too much area.

Zilber Ltd., ABB's chosen developer, is therefore proposing a 100-stall parking structure underneath the building in addition to a 360-stall surface lot that would serve it and two more projected buildings to the northeast and southeast.

Structure parking is far more expensive than surface parking, and Zilber, on behalf of ABB, has already asked for $2 million in TIF funds to pay for it. The TIF plan amendment would add parking, both structured and surface, to be added to the allowable uses of TIF funds.

The amendment would apply not only to ABB but to all future development proposals in the TIF district. The current site master plan calls for seven private technology or commercial developments in Innovation Campus plus a proposed residential development on the adjacent Eschweiler Historic District.

Projections – and they are only projections, not proposals – in the TIF amendment call for more than $12 million in TIF funding for parking as Innovation Campus development grows, with a total investment of more than $18 million projected over the life of the TIF when debt service is figured in.

The city has already borrowed more than $12 million through TIF No. 6 and TIF No. 2 for building Discovery Parkway between Swan Boulevard and Watertown Plank Road and for utilities installations to serve both the Innovation and Eschweiler campuses. The parking projections would grown the final TIF, debt service included, to a projected $30 million.

The Eschweiler campus lies within both TIFs, but funds from TIF 2 can only be used to support infrastructure in the TIF 6 portion if development occurs on TIF 2. The city has been awaiting a formal proposal from Mandel Group to develop apartments on the site, but that is complicated by questions over the preservation of the historic buildings and by financing gaps Mandel has identified.

To preserve the buildings and reconfigure them as residential units, Mandel would need help to fill a gap estimated at $6.5 million. Mandel has proposed as an alternative demolishing all but one of the Eschweiler buildings, but in August he said even that would put him in a position to ask for $2.5 million in TIF assistance.

jbw February 11, 2013 at 12:07 AM
It's good to see lots of activity taking place.
Jack February 11, 2013 at 08:57 PM
What happened to the china man laundry service?

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