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CDA to tackle redevelopment of former fire station site

Tosa Common Council first must OK land transfer

May 9, 2012

The city's Community Development Authority may have its first assignment: overseeing redevelopment of the less than 1 acre parcel remaining of the former fire station property.

Former Mayor Jill Didier appointed seven members with expertise in areas such as real estate, corporate tax law and commercial banking to the CDA six months ago. Since then, the group has met several times, but hasn't had projects to work on, said Alderman Craig Wilson, vice chairman of the CDA.

"The members of the CDA are very encouraged to jump in on this and get their feet wet," he told the Community Development Committee on Tuesday.

The committee and the Common Council must approve transferring ownership of the parcel to the CDA. The council is expected to take up the matter Tuesday.

This goes against the original intent of the city to sell off that parcel for redevelopment. In better economic times, the estimated sale price came in at $300,000, Economic Development Director Paulette Enders said.

However, the long-term gain in tax revenue that would come from a quality development would be a worthwhile trade-off, she said.

Alderman Bobby Pantuso believes there will be no shortage of developers wanting this property on Underwood Avenue, next to the new Fire Station 1.

"People have been champing at the bit to get this since the fire station project was approved," he said.

The transfer also means taking some oversight away from the committee, which would otherwise handle issuing requests for proposals and evaluating potential development options. However, the CDA does make its recommendation to the committee and the council will have an opportunity for input, Enders said.

The CDA has state-approved authority to negotiate privately about developments involving public lands and public funds, and it will take fewer meetings with fewer boards and committees to accomplish development this way, she added.

The property is currently tax-exempt and generating no revenue. When the CDA does sell it to a developer the proceeds will become seed money - right now the body has no operating budget - to use for future development projects.

This project will give the CDA a chance to prove itself and give the city an opportunity to prove it made the right decision creating the body, committee members said. They unanimously voted to recommend transfer of ownership.

Next step

WHAT: The Common Council will vote to transfer ownership of the remnant parcel of land from the former fire station to the Community Development Authority

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. May 15

WHERE: City Hall, 7725 W. North Ave.

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