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New life planned at old site

Development planned for former industrial land

April 17, 2012

Menomonee Falls - Redevelopment doesn't happen over night.

A tax-incremental financing district formed for the purposes of redevelopment at a predominantly old industrial site in Menomonee Falls is proof of that; however, the long process is beginning to prove worth while. Plans are in motion for the redevelopment of the old Western Industries property located in the 92.9-acre TIF district that is bounded by U.S. Highway 41 on the north, Roosevelt Drive on the south, Water Street on the west and Pilgrim Road on the east. The TIF district was created in 2008.

On Friday, the Menomonee Falls Community Development Authority closed on the 17-acre Western Industries' Stolper Steel property on the corner of Pilgrim Road and Roosevelt Drive, paying $600,000 for full scale remediation of the property. The total property's valuation currently sits at approximately $9 million, Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald said. Once redevelopment is finished, it will be worth an estimated $80 million.

Ongoing negotiations

Fitzgerald released at the meeting that plans are now in motion to begin tangible redevelopment of that site with a 90,000-square-foot, two-story building that will include medical, wellness and retail uses. Fitzgerald said they cannot release what businesses may go in the building, however, he said at the Village Board meeting Monday night that Ryan Companies is in negotiations with potential tenants.

"We've been operating under a memorandum of understanding for over a year and we are now in actual negotiations for actual redevelopment," he said.

Construction of the building is slated to begin in fall and will house tenants in 2013.

Village invests $5.3 million

Including road construction and land remediation of contaminated areas in the TIF, the village will invest no more than a $5.3 million in redeveloping the area that runs just south of Highway 145, however, Fitzgerald said if all goes well, it will be less expensive than that.

"That increment creates new taxes that will be paid by overlapping taxing agencies by 2033, pay investment costs and debt, but what we really gain is we stop the blight and degradation and dramatically change that area," he said.

Redevelopment over decay

"You get to a level of blight that you are just out of options of what you can do to turn the area around," Fitzgerald said. "When the whole area gets so bad, there's no economic activity that remains and we couldn't allow that to happen in Menomonee Falls."

Redevelopment has been nearly four years in the making for the tax-incremental financing district. At the time the TIF formed, approximately 54 acres needed conservation or rehabilitation work. The initial plan to redevelop the area with primarily commercial uses, including retail, is finally taking shape. When formed, a developer's proposal estimated that seven new developments in the area could generate approximately $32.8 million in tax incremental revenue.

A 2006 environmental impact study that found groundwater pollution and contaminants on the Western Industries site prompted the village to action to remediate the land. The Western Industries building was demolished in 2010. On Monday, near surface remediation began. Deep soil remediation, a two-week process, begins July 16. The concrete floor slab was left on the demolished property to "cap" the site while the village works with the Department of Natural Resources on remediation.

"We were able to pinpoint areas of contamination, what it would take to clean them up and we finished our negotiations to purchase the site and we now move forward full speed ahead," Fitzgerald said.

The TIF also includes the former We Energies service center that was relocated from Water Street to a new facility on Lilly Road and Warren Street in 2011. Demolition of the building and storage yard is currently under way, but the substation will remain on site.

Road extension coming

The land use plan for redevelopment area consists of commercial properties running along the north of a Richfield Way road extension that will run through the site.

"The commercial area will be highly visible from Highway 145 and a much more attractive entrance from the north," Fitzgerald said.

There will be pockets of mixed-used commercial properties between Water Street and the new Richfield Way extension. The middle part of the property consists of 13 acres of multifamily residential. There will be a small, industrial area on the west side of Water Street - where the Department of Public Works facility is located.

Construction begins in summer

The redevelopment project includes extending Richfield Way and the first phase of construction is projected to begin July 16. The plan calls for an extension of Richfield Way from Pilgrim Road to Water Street. There will also be improvements made to the storm and sanitary sewer, as well as an extension of the water main. Richfield Way will also be widened from Water Street to County Line Road.

Richfield Way will extend through the site and be an arterial to carry the traffic, Fitzgerald said. To segment the residential traffic from commercial traffic, Roosevelt Drive will terminate at a new intersection at Richfield Way.

"Roosevelt Drive will come in and tie in with a perpendicular intersection with the new corridor at Richfield Way and you will be able to make full turning segments because no one will use Richfield Way if they can continue on Richfield Drive," Fitzgerald said.

Water Street will also change and become Richfield Way beneath the footbridge that sits in the redevelopment area.

"Now it will tier into Richfield Way and terminate 300 feet south of that and Water Street will turn in and become a perpendicular intersection with Richfield Way," Fitzgerald said. "It will essentially flow just fine for general traffic on Water Street."

Construction of the eastern half of the roadway that begins off Pilgrim Road begins in July and runs through the 2012 construction season. Phase two begins in the middle of the site, west of Water Street, in 2013.

Fitzgerald said Roosevelt Drive will continue with its normal traffic flow until the new intersection connection is constructed and roadway extension is in place.

Project schedule
Near surface remediationApril 17
Deep soil remediation July 16
Richfield Way construction (phase one)July 16
Private partner redevelopmentFall, 2012

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