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City agrees to funding for Wangard project

Feb. 5, 2014

Wauwatosa has approved $3.3 million in city financing for the cleanup and redevelopment of the former Western Metals site, immediately north of the Grede Foundry, off State Street.

The funding includes almost $1.8 million for environmental cleanup at the site and another $1.5 million to repay the developer, Wangard Partners, for its planned investment in infrastructure.

Wangard has worked for months to win approval for 169 apartments in six buildings at the 9.4-acre site in the 1200 block of North 62nd Street.

Its first proposal, made in July, was rejected by the Plan Commission, and it came back in August with a more urban-looking design that increased the density and better matched its neighbors, such as The Enclave complex nearby.

Adding to the tax base

Wangard has said it will spend some $24 million on the project, adding $20 million to the tax base. In a November presentation, Wangard Vice President Anthony DeRosa said the consulting group Sigma had rated the property in the top 10 percent of dirtiest sites in the Milwaukee area. The site's challenges include lead, hydraulic oils, chlorinated solvents and petroleum.

Wangard plans to work with the state Department of Natural Resources to clean up and cap the site under 24 inches of soil.

The city plans to close the tax-incremental financing district that includes the Wangard site, created in 2000, putting The Enclave, The Annex, The Reserve, Outpost Natural Foods and Pick 'n' Save back on the tax rolls. It will then create a new TIF district for the Wangard project.

The city will be reimbursed for its outlays through the increase tax collections as the property gains value.

Cleanup and infrastucture

City Finance Director John Ruggini said the environmental remediation funding includes $865,000 set aside for a 2006 proposal that never went forward. Some of this has been spent. The money will be paid out as the developer reaches "milestones" in cleanup, Ruggini said.

Infrastructure, including additional environmental cleanup and creating access to the Schoonmaker Reef, on the northern border of the project, will be paid for by Wangard, with the city reimbursing the developer over eight to 10 years.

Ruggini called the impending closure of TIF No. 3, including the properties listed above, a "real success story." The city budget puts the value of the district at $76.6 million last year, from a base value of $29.5 million.

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