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Innovation Park road plan reviewed

Project development plan runs through 2031

Feb. 8, 2012

The UWM Innovation Park project designed to transform the County Grounds into what one university official described as a rival for Silicon Valley is moving ahead in phases, forecast to continue through 2031.

UWM and city officials Tuesday laid out a six-phase approach to the Committee of the Whole.

The basic big-picture elements of the plan include an infrastructure facelift of the 88.5-acre parcel to the north and east of Watertown Plank Road and Highway 45. That includes repositioning the Swan Boulevard spur to the west of the highway and building a road that will act as an entrance to a two-story, 25,000-square-foot UWM accelerator lab building situated behind the County Parks building. That road also is seen as an entrance point to the natural areas of the grounds, as the plan attempts to successfully mingle development with recreation uses and open land.

Road plan reviewed

City Administrator Jim Archambo prefaced the presentation by saying the preliminary overview would most likely generate more questions than could be answered. Indeed, a few aldermen questioned details about the road width, plans for medians and parking as they pertain to the entrance road, as well as the design materials to be used for the road entrance.

Alderman Brian Ewerdt wanted to know if there is there any concern that the road "will be used as a shortcut" for employees leaving the medical facilities to the south of Watertown Plank Road. After the meeting, Alderman Dennis McBride said he thinks the road design - using a 25-mph speed limit, a curving route and possibly a roundabout, and with parking allowed alongside it - would make that unattractive to drivers.

After the Committee of the Whole adjourned to a Common Council meeting, aldermen unanimously approved a right-of -way access for a portion of the main road to 1,200 feet north of Watertown Plank Road. However, the council declined, at least for now, to accept naming the extension Technology Parkway."

Phased approach

The presentation laid out six project phases.

Phase I was the 2010 approval of a tax-incremental financing district to allow completion of the sale of the land to UWM. The result is annual revenue of $210,000 to $270,000 that is used to pay back the initial loan, used to fund improvements.

Phase II includes the 2011-12 construction of the infrastructure for the front portion of the site and construction of the UWM accelerator. TIF revenue is expected to increase to $260,000 to $340,000.

Phase III is to run from 2012 to 2015 and will see infrastructure work extended to the northern portion of the site and construction of a residential project. The TIF revenue is projected to rise to $507,000 to $650,000 annually.

Phase IV is slated for 2014 to 2020 and would bring construction of additional corporate partner buildings, campus retail and a TIF revenue upward of $1.49 million.

Phase V, from 2013 to 2031, would see additional corporate partner buildings and campus retail with a TIF value of more than $2 million.

Phase VI then would retire the debt and expand the city's tax base by 1.2 to 2.25 percent.

All steps within the first phase, city officials said, would be subject to approval from appropriate bodies such as the Economic Development Authority, Board of Public Works and the Common Council.

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