good fit’ for Thiensville, residents say
at meeting oppose apartments proposed for corner of Green
Bay Road and Riverview Drive
Gary Achterberg - News Graphic Staff
July 28, 2015
THIENSVILLE — The developer who
wants to build a 44-unit apartment project was met at a July 21
meeting by a standing-room-only crowd who argued that the
project was too big and not a good fit for Thiensville.
By the end of the 2 1/2-hour-long hearing and meeting of the
village Plan Commission, developer David Hoff said he would at
least explore the possibility of downsizing the project to about
The meeting technically was an opportunity for the Plan
Commission to discuss the merits of establishing a tax
incremental financing district to assist in the development.
Residents were told they could speak about the merits of the
project in general – and they didn’t hold back. “It’s another
high-density project on a small acreage – and not only that,
it’s rental property,” said Randy Short, who lives on Riverview
Drive. “The condo people take more pride in the community.”
Several residents said they are getting tired of coming to
Village Hall to oppose high-density projects proposed for the
site that has been vacant since M&I Bank pulled out about seven
years ago. A developer from the Twin Cities area proposed a
66-unit assisted living facility in July 2009 and later a
60-unit apartment building. Both ideas fizzled, at least in part
due to the neighbors’ opposition.
“I’m disappointed that we’re here again talking about this kind
of density,” said Cindy Reilly, who lives on Riverview Drive,
with her husband, James, who also spoke.
James Reilly said offering TIF money for the project is “really
just a subsidy to the builder.” He asked a rhetorical question:
“Do you want to use a TIF district to get this project?” Many in
the audience answered, “No.”
Approximately 40 residents attended the meeting; 15 spoke, all
basically in opposition to the apartment plan. Several letters
received by the village also were read; all but one opposed the
Michael Harrigan, a representative of Ehlers and Associates, a
finance firm advising the village on the TIF, said the proposed
project would have a completed value of $6.5 million. The
developer would be paid back $1.2 million over approximately 16
years from the additional tax increment. The current taxable
value of the site is $750,212. Given the projections he put
together, Harrigan said the TIF would be retired about 11 years
before the maximum time state law allows for the district.
The arrangement is “risk averse” to the village because the
income would not be paid to the developer unless it is generated
by taxes on the successful development, he said.
During the discussion that followed the public hearing, Village
President Van Mobley attempted to find common ground. He said he
was looking for “something that is acceptable and makes the
During their remarks, several residents said they would prefer
to see condominiums on the site. They said the density would be
lower and that the owners would likely be more invested in
taking care of their property and being a part of the community.
Hoff said his market research indicated that there was a demand
for apartments at the price point he is proposing, which would
range from $1,100 a month for a one-bedroom to about $2,000 a
month for a three-bedroom townhome.
Hoff said he was willing to do some basic research into the
feasibility of developing a condo project with somewhere in the
neighborhood of 20 units on the site. He said he would return to
the village with his findings.
“I’m very familiar with the trends in the marketplace. I’m very
familiar with what my clients are hiring me for,” he said. “It
doesn’t appear there is a market for that product (condos)
currently – or you’d be seeing it.”
Hoff asked if TIF support would still be available from the
village if his proposal switched to the lower-density condo
project. Mobley said if the project met the intent of the
district and was an improvement to the village that it could be
The village has two meetings planned next week to continue
discussions on the project. They are a Village Board Committee
of the Whole meeting Monday and another Plan Commission session
the following evening.
Gary Achterberg can be reached at