Latest TIF request is a ‘no-brainer’ for city

Port officials OK additional financing for senior housing project on former southside trailer park site
Ozaukee Press staff

The City of Port Washington, which has grappled with the issue of tax incremental financing districts and developer incentives, last week agreed to expand TIF financing for the developer of an affordable senior housing project on South Spring Street.

With some officials calling the development an ideal use for TIF financing, the Common Council on Oct. 1 agreed to provide $754,348 in TIF financing over 27 years for the Spring Harbor Senior Apartments being built by Horizon Development.

That would extend the life of the TIF district five years for the project, a three-story building with 40 apartments for people 55 and older. There would be a mix of one and two-bedroom units as well as a clubroom, fitness center, patio and underground parking for residents as well as a small surface parking lot.

“To me it’s a no-brainer,” Mayor Marty Becker said. “It’s addressing a need. I think it’s just great. 

“They’re taking an unfortunate situation and making it better.”

Aldermen have said the site, a former trailer park the city purchased for redevelopment a decade ago, is ideal for a TIF district. Electrical lines that cross the property and the fact there is an existing trailer park and railroad tracks next to it made the property difficult to sell, they noted.

“I think it’s a great project,” Ald. Jonathan Pleitner said.

Ald. Paul Neumyer added, “I support the project fully. I think it’s a great addition to the city.”

Tests on the site, a former trailer park that the city sold to Horizon Development for the project, revealed the water table is higher than expected and the soils are not suitable, Will Rutherford, a development associate with Horizon, said.

“Those are two of the worst things you can find,” he said, noting they forced a redesign of the site plan and $576,000 in additional costs.

Because of that, the building needs to be supported by rammed aggregate piers and raised three to nine feet above the existing grade, Rutherford said.

The costs will be covered by $310,000 realized by a lower than expected mortgage interest rate, $68,000 in additional tax credits and $138,000 of the developer’s own money, he said.

The city has committed to a pay-as-you-go TIF district for the project, in which the developer, not the city, would pay the upfront cost of development and be repaid a portion of the money through increased taxes on the land, for the project.

Horizon would receive 95% of the additional taxes on the property annually with the city receiving 5% to cover its administrative costs.

Once the developer’s costs are repaid, the TIF district will be dissolved, even if it’s earlier than the projected 2046 end of the district.

On Tuesday, the revised building and site plan for the apartments at 900 to 910 S. Spring St. was approved by the city’s Design Review Board.

“I think we’ve made a few improvements to the design” as well as fixing the soil issues, Rutherford told the board.

The entry to the underground parking has been moved from the east side of the structure, where the water table is high, to the west side, where it fronts on Spring Street, he said.

An outdoor patio was also moved from the south side of the building, where it looked out onto the existing trailer park, to the north.

Dan Fitzgerald, CEO and president of Horizon, told the board that they originally thought vegetation would screen the patio from the trailer park, but that’s not the case.

In addition, raising the apartment building to deal with the water issues meant that the patio would overlook the trailer park, he said.

Not moving the patio would be a “forever mistake,” Fitzgerald said.

Design Review Board member Melissa Didier complimented the revised design, saying, “It’s really turned into a rich look.”

“I think it’s a great looking building,” board chairman Rob Vanden Noven, the city’s public works director, said.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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