The $3 million question
Potential buyer for Amcast property emerges in 11th hour

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Staff

Oct. 19, 2017

 The condemned former Amcast manufacturing facility on Hamilton Road in Cedarburg is on track to be demolished, no matter who buys the property.
Photo by Mark Justesen

CEDARBURG — There was nothing routine about the events of the Cedarburg Community Development Authority meeting Monday night. The task at hand was to move forward on the project plan for TID No. 4, which is the former Meta Mold/Amcast properties located at Hamilton and Johnson roads.

As planned, the project would require an investment of $4.54 million from the city with the likelihood that all project costs would not be recovered.

“It’s one of the few Superfund sites in the state of Wisconsin,” said DJ Burns, a developer who has been working with the CDA in hopes of redeveloping the property once the TID is established. “I’m a willing participant in this project and I think we can really do something great for this community.”

Except that on Monday night, a potential buyer stepped forward.

“I’ve been in negotiations with the seller of the Amcast property,” said Tim Tucker, a Mequon resident. “I have a proposal that will not require the city to spend a penny; it would be all private investment dollars and I would be the one dealing with the state and the EPA. I will take the property as it is, remediate it and put it back in productive order. I don’t think you need to lend a single, bloody penny (to redevelop this).”

Tucker said that he is an expert in fast track construction and named a number of clients he has worked for. However, he also declined to give more than minimal details of his plan, his investment partners or business, stating that he prefers to keep his business dealings confidential until needed.

Tucker later noted in a phone interview that his reluctance to go public with his project also is due in part to the fact he is in the process of addressing indemnification issues with the seller and that process is not complete.

“The indemnification is the seller’s main thing, and in terms of the city’s plan, I think it’s silly to put the taxpayers at risk with the potential liability in this project,” he later said. “It doesn’t have a sunset clause either.”

“The CDA was put into place (more than) nine months ago,” said CDA member Eric Stelter at the meeting. “And you do have the ability to negotiate without showing your cards. Why did you wait until now to come to the CDA?”

“The last thing you do is leave your notebook turned up at the courthouse,” Tucker said at the meeting. “I didn’t think I needed to – I wasn’t asking the CDA for money. I was making trips to Dallas and meeting with the seller. I don’t like people knowing the business I do.”

He later noted that he has been keeping an eye on this property and the city’s efforts for some time.

“I’ve been watching this for a long time and I thought, ‘There’s no way the city is going to go forward with this,’” he said. “When it became apparent that was happening, I reluctantly came forward.”

Tucker first communicated with Common Council members via email on Oct. 11 in regards to his potential plans.

City Attorney Mike Hebrand also noted that he subsequently had been in contact with the seller’s attorney, who had expressed a preference on behalf of his client to move forward with the TID plans.

“Nobody has made any reference to a purchase at all – not the EPA lawyer, not representatives of the property owner, nobody,” said Stelter. “We do owe the citizens a certain quality of life and quality of project, and to some extent, we’ve already negotiated this with the proposed TID plans.”

“The bottom line, is who is going to get the land?” said Cedarburg Mayor Kip Kinzel. “From a taxpayer standpoint, I’d rather we don’t have to borrow $3 million. But what is the right plan?”

Council Member Jack Arnett was in the audience for the public hearing, and asked Tucker to clarify his potential costs and ability to turn a profit on such an investment.

“If you take the project costs, which are likely to be similar whether its done through a TID or as a private project, you’re looking at a half-million dollars an acre,” he said. “What are you going to put in here that justifies that cost?”

“We do have an answer – we can do multifamily housing with the space requirements,” he said. “We’ve worked through the numbers.”

Tucker also alluded to the possibility of the outstanding $300,000 tax bill being forgiven on the property. However, this would be a decision that would need to be made at the county level, not the city.

CDA members discussed the possible options going forward. Tucker requested that the CDA provide him with additional time to complete his negotiations with the seller prior to implementing the planned TID district. He noted in the later phone interview that he was working with his architect to present plans to the CDA in the near future.

With the process in place, the earliest the TID district could receive approval from the Common Council would be Nov. 16. Additionally, the actual TID district would not be filed with the State of Wisconsin until October 2018; should the sale be completed, even after approval, the city could choose simply not to file.

After discussion, the CDA unanimously approved moving forward with the resolution.

<<EARLIER: Public hearing on Amcast property to be held Monday