Building a new Racine

    Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

    The City of Racine is redeveloping several of its industrial sites that were left vacant when long-standing manufacturing businesses shut their doors in recent years. One of Racine’s largest projects is a tax incremental financing (TIF) district for the former Jacobsen/Textron Turf Care site at 1721 Packard Ave., where lawn mowers were assembled for more than 30 years.
    Brian O’Connell, director of city development for Racine, said the city’s redevelopment of the 14-acre parcel is nearly complete.
    "It’s a major project," O’Connell said. "A lot of money is going to be invested in that. The city is landlocked, and there’s almost no industrial property left. It’s very important for the City of Racine to be able to offer inner city industrial land for companies that want to expand or come in from the outside."
    The 480,000-square-foot former Jacobsen/Textron manufacturing plant has been completely demolished, and site remediation has been completed.
    Work done so far, totaling about $4.5 million, has been largely paid through TIF dollars. O’Connell said the TIF paid for acquisition of the land, demolition of existing structures, site remediation and infrastructure improvements, such as extending Phillips Avenue to the western side of the property.
    The Wisconsin Department of Commerce granted the project $550,000 in November for environmental cleanup, along with a Department of Natural Resources grant of $70,000.
    Now that the former manufacturing center is demolished, the site has been cleaned up and public improvements have been made, the city’s work on the parcel is done, O’Connell said. Private developments will pay for new buildings, he said.
    "We’re creating an industrial land bank," O’Connell said. "We will be selling (parcels) to businesses who will come in and erect their own buildings."
    Another 14-acre parcel in Racine that was home to a former manufacturing plant also is in the early phases of redevelopment. However, unlike the Jacobsen/Textron site, the old Racine Steel Castings site across the street from Horlick Athletic Field is not included in a TIF district.
    Instead, the eventual redevelopment of that site will be funded entirely with private dollars.
    Champion Environmental Services Inc., a Gilberts Ill.-based firm, has been contracted by E&G Development LLC to demolish the building and do environmental remediation at the site.
    Rick Tooker, executive vice president of Champion, said the company is currently removing machinery, steel beams, bricks and other materials that can be recycled from the former 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. Champion also is removing of asbestos and foundry sand that have been found on the property.
    "They are maintaining close contact with the DNR on this," O’Connell said.
    While Champion is working closely with E&G on the demolition and remediation of the site, E&G is still in the process of evaluating what the end-use of the property will be.
    "We’ll have more discussions with them when they are ready for re-use," O’Connell said. "The land is zoned for industrial, and we want it to be used for industrial (purposes) in the future."
    Champion also has a contract to remove CNH Global N.V.’s vacant facilities on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Mount Pleasant. Champion will recycle about 98 percent of the bricks, steel, wood and concrete in the 1.7 million-square-foot facility.
    The former assembly center, foundry and power plant encompass about 100 acres, making it the largest piece of land along the Lake Michigan shore available for development or redevelopment between Milwaukee and Chicago.
    Champion has demolished 40 to 50 percent of the former tractor plant, Tooker said.
    CNH has not yet announced plans to redevelop or sell the property.
    However, Gordie Kacala, executive director of the Racine County Economic Development Commission, said the site will provide redevelopment opportunities.
    "CNH’s lakefront property provides a unique opportunity to create substantial new development that would blend well with nearby residential, open space and public uses," Kaccala said. "With proper planning, the property could be a key component in the future development of the Village of Mount Pleasant."
    February 4, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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