State OKs Mequon TIF change

By Gary Achterberg

Oct. 11, 2018

MEQUON — A recently approved amendment to Mequon’s Town Center tax incremental finance district has received required approval from the state of Wisconsin.

The approval by the state’s Department of Revenue, formalized in a Sept. 11 letter to Mequon City Clerk Caroline Fochs, clears the way for the city to provide a pay-as-you-go incentive to developers of the Foxtown development on a blighted 17-acre parcel on the south side of Mequon Road.

The Mequon Common Council approved amending the TIF district in August on a 5-3 vote. Aldermen returned in September to authorize the $4.9 million incentive for the development that is the third major Town Center project on a 5-3 vote.

The cornerstone of the project is renovation of the historic brewery at the corner of Mequon Road and Buntrock Avenue that already is underway. The project ultimately will include the Argentos restaurant, a beer hall, 23 single-family homes, 96 apartment units, offices and retail space.

Much of the incentive is aimed at demolition and other necessary steps to get the property ready for development.

The incentive does not commit city funds. It essentially provides a refund on part of the property taxes to the developers over the next nine years as they meet requirements laid out in the agreement.

If all benchmarks are met, the developers are in line to receive paybacks to cover approximately $1.5 million for site demolition, $925,400 in base improvements and a 5-percent “incentive bonus” of about $2.5 million.

The amendments in the TIF district also open the door for the city to make additional improvements to public amenities in the neighborhood along Industrial Drive that would include streetscaping.

If the development is fully completed, annual property taxes collected on the property are expected to increase from the current $16,500 to more than $800,000 a year.

The initial phase of the Town Center – now about three years old – is anchored by Café Hollander at the intersection of Mequon and Cedarburg roads. That development includes three additional buildings of retail, office space and apartments. The second phase, now being built, is the Spur 16 development on the public works site north of Mequon Road. It will include the Mequon Public Market, apartments, a restaurant and other retail.