Waukesha Plan Commission backs new TIF
Tax district will help fund luxury apartments

By Cara Spoto

Aug. 15, 2019

WAUKESHA — A special taxing district proposed for a luxury downtown apartment development has cleared its first hurdle.

The Plan Commission on Wednesday unanimously backed a request to create Tax Increment Finance District 26. If approved by the full Common Council and area taxing bodies, the district would be located on the north side of the Fox River, between Barstow and Madison streets. The north border would be St. Paul Avenue and the southern border would be Riverfront Street.

TIF District 26

Tax incremental financing allows municipalities to funnel tax money into improvements within a geographic district. After a TIF district is created, a portion of the property tax generated on new developments within the district, called “increment,” goes into a pot that can be used to pay for improvements, like environmental cleanups, road construction and demolition projects, within the district.

TIF District 26 is being proposed to help fund the apartment development, yielding roughly $15.3 million to pay for rehabilitation and conservation work.

Dubbed The Reserve at Waukesha, the development is slated to feature 186 units, commercial space, parking, and apartment amenities. Officials estimate that creating the TIF district will result in the creation of $79 million in additional property value by the time the district closes in 2034.

A public hearing on the taxing district yielded no public comment on Wednesday, and there was no discussion by commissioners prior to voting.

“This district is needed to facilitate development on lands that have been vacant for several years due to the lack of adequate infrastructure, environmental contamination (previous uses included a coal gasification plant and several railroad tracks), obsolete platting, and multiple ownership of parcels,” according to city documents.

What’s next

The Common Council is slated to weigh in on the TIF district proposal at its Sept. 3 meeting, with the Joint Review Board casting its vote on Sept. 17. The board, comprised of representatives from area taxing bodies, had its preliminary review of the proposal this week.

No vocal objections were raised at that time, Mayor Shawn Reilly said.

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