POSTED ON JULY 8th, 2009
City proposes purchase of former Tower Automotive site
Proposal calls for redevelopment of Milwaukee’s largest industrial property
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced today the City of Milwaukee is proposing to acquire 84 acres of the former Tower Automotive site for environmental clean-up and eventual redevelopment of the site to attract 700-1,000 additional jobs. The project will be similar in size and scope to the Menomonee Valley project. Mayor Barrett noted the Menomonee Valley was a long-range project to clean-up and redevelop into a thriving business center, now in its 10th year of progress.
The proposed offer to purchase the former Tower Automotive site will be considered at the July 14th, 2009 meeting of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee. The property, located in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor, is bounded roughly by West Capitol Drive, Soo Line railroad tracks, West Townsend Street and North 27th Street. Department of City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux said the project would require extensive environmental assessment and remediation work as well as public improvements before it could be ready to attract new businesses. The agreed upon purchase price of $3.5 million will be covered by funds from the City of Milwaukee's 2008 Capital Budget; funds already dedicated for this use.
"The City is taking on a significant challenge with the acquisition of this site," said Mayor Barrett. "In the long-run, cleaning up this site will put us in a better position to attract and grow a variety of businesses at one of the largest former industrial properties in Milwaukee. The longer we wait to take this on, the more expensive the clean-up will be.”
The Tower site has the potential to be a major job producer for the City of Milwaukee," said Alderman Ashanti Hamilton. "Moving forward with the purchase of this land puts us in position to redevelop it to its highest and best use."
"This is the right time for the City to make this investment for its people," said Alderman Willie Wade, who also represents part of the area that includes the former Tower Automotive site. "Industrial land in a populated area is at a premium, especially when it is located near its workforce and on major transportation routes, as evidenced by the six new companies located in the Menomonee Valley."
Federal and State government are also committed to the redevelopment of this site, much like they did with the Menomonee Valley, said Mayor Barrett. Funding announcements by federal and state partners are expected in the near future.
The Redevelopment Authority will also consider at its July 14th meeting a proposed $15 million Tax Incremental Financing District to help address remediation, demolition, public improvements and other work to prepare the site for modern industrial use.
Commissioner Marcoux said the remediation work could take at least 2 years, and the Department is planning a job training program associated with the site's clean-up work. It's anticipated that the site plan and infrastructure needed depends on the extent of environmental work required.
Marcoux said the site would eventually be the home of a mix of businesses and a mix of job opportunities, similar to the range of uses in the Menomonee Valley or the Stadium Business Park. The north side site could be used as land bank opportunity for high-growth industries the city is targeting, including green jobs.
Mayor Tom Barrett also said that the public will be involved in the planning process for the future of the site. Part of the future focus will include strengthening the immediate neighborhood, including offering forgivable loans to area homeowners for necessary repairs.
The final sale of the property is contingent upon approval by the Redevelopment Authority and the Common Council.
Read a Milwaukee JSOnline article on the proposal...