Joint Review Board to discuss proposed AMF Bowling site TIF

By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff

Sept. 27, 2015

WAUKESHA — A proposed tax incremental financing district that sparked a lengthy debate at the Waukesha Common Council earlier this month could be finalized by the city’s Joint Review Board next week.

The board will discuss the formation of TIF No. 25 — an industrial district highlighted by the former AMF Bowling Center building at 901 Northview Road — on Tuesday.

Chicago-based developer HSA Commercial has proposed razing that building, clearing the site and replacing it with a 214,000-squarefoot industrial building.

Only two items are listed on the board’s agenda — a review of public record, planning documents and resolutions for creating the TIF, and a discussion about the boundaries for the project plan.

The Common Council ultimately voted 9-5 for the project following a long debate earlier this month.

The city intends to offer the developer incentives structured as a $1,150,000 grant paid during the facility’s construction and as a “pay as you go” grant, meaning that as increment is realized in the district, reimbursement will be made to the developer up to $1,650,000.

The PAYGO grant payouts will also be dependent on the number and salaries of the jobs at the site.

Projects in the district would include: demolition of an existing shuttered bowling facility; city-required architectural upgrades and site preparation; environmental testing; storm sewer upgrades on site; and land acquisition.

During the council meeting earlier this month, some aldermen raised concerns about the “slippery slope” related to the continued use of public funds to help grow private businesses.

But Council President Andy Reiland said the project ultimately comes down to being competitive in bringing in outside businesses.

“This TIF is allowing us to be competitive, bring in this developer, other developers, so that we don’t look at that building being vacant for the next 10 years,” he said during the meeting.

“We can sit here ... and we play the card and say there is going to be another developer down the road. And then we sit here 10 years down the road and we’ve lost a couple million dollars, potentially, while the building sits and continues to deteriorate.”

HSA must create 26 new jobs over the next 15 years to realize 100 percent of the grant reimbursement. The developer would be eligible for smaller percentages of the funds if it cannot reach that goal.

The site’s job creation numbers would be reviewed by the city on an annual basis.

As is, the property has an assessed value close to $5 million, but with the creation of the TIF district, HSA has guaranteed the land will reach an assessed value of $12.5 million by 2018, or the developer will be forced to pay taxes to cover the difference.

If that value is attained, it means taxes paid to the city would increase by $217,000 each year.

The Joint Review Board is comprised of taxing entities affected by the TIF, including the Waukesha School District, Waukesha County Technical College and one citizen member.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in room 207 of Waukesha City Hall, 201 Delafield St.