Irgens presents argument for public funds toward Brookfield development to Community Development Authority

By Katherine Michalets - Special to The Freeman

Nov. 19, 2014

 Ruby Farms as seen from Calhoun Road. The proposed The Corridor project will change the face of this last, large undeveloped property in the key Bluemound Road corridor.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

BROOKFIELD - During a special Brookfield Community Development Authority meeting Tuesday, David Arnold with Irgens explained why he believes the proposed mixed-use development at the former Ruby Farm on Bluemound Road needs public funds.

Irgens wants to build about 877,000 square feet of retail, office, hospitality, medical and wellness building space on approximately 65 acres of land located north of Interstate 94, west of Calhoun Road and south of Bluemound Road. The developer is also requesting tax incremental financing for the project, but a figure has not been disclosed publicly as the city and developer negotiate.

During the meeting Monday, Arnold said “The Corridor” project is not economically feasible without TIF assistance.

He explained that the value of the 65 acres is about $1.4 million currently, but would be valued closer to $143 million once The Corridor would be built. About $2.7 million in annual taxes from property and hotel room taxes would also be generated, Arnold said. In addition, approximately 3,000 permanent jobs and 500 construction jobs are projected.

Arnold said there would also be public use benefits, such as the relocation and upkeep of the Ruby Farm home and barn, maintenance of wetlands, walking trails and the development of a needed hotel. Land is also being allocated for a potential conference center while the need is vetted, Arnold said.

 Ruby Farms as seen from Calhoun Road. The proposed The Corridor project will change the face of this last, large undeveloped property in the key Bluemound Road corridor.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

The TIF funds would be used for development costs, Arnold said, such as engineering, site grading, road construction, utility extension and traffic signal installation.

“We believe what we are asking for is a modest and appropriate TIF request,” Arnold said.


Project would have three zones

The Corridor would include three zones. The first would have retail stores and restaurants. The second zone would have medical and wellness facilities and a hotel, while the third zone facing I-94 would have office buildings. Depending on what the market dictates, the office space could be three office buildings with multiple tenants or a large corporate headquarters or a combination of both.

“(We are) putting Brookfield in the game for corporate headquarters users,” Arnold said.

The architecture in the first and second zone would have a hard urban edge, which is what attracts young professionals, Arnold said.

The historic home and barn would remain on the property. Arnold said the organization Visit Brookfield has expressed interest in working out of the home.

CDA member David J. Raysich asked what kind of interest there is in retail and office space and wanted to know if Irgens had done a market study. He also threw the figure out about the TIF request being $10 million.  Arnold said they could not discuss it, but did say it is a modest amount compared to other developments receiving TIF funds in the area.

Raysich said The Corridor looked like a good plan.

When asked about the construction timeframe, Arnold said the first building could go up in 2015 and that the construction is predicted to last five to eight years, but possibly as long as 10 years.

After a closed session, a consultant to the city on the project was directed to expand the analysis to include how much the project would draw in existing Brookfield businesses - leaving vacant sites - how much financial projections there would be linked to the buildings, not just the land valuation increase; and what the size of the office buildings would be without parking decks.