Deal of the Week

Milwaukee to purchase part of former Tower site

City of Milwaukee officials announced recently that they have an agreement to purchase 84 acres of the 140-acre former Tower Automotive site from Milwaukee Industrial Trade Center LLC for $3.5 million.

The city’s plan for the property indicates it will cost about $34.5 million to purchase and redevelop the property. The city plans to create a $15 million tax incremental financing (TIF) district to help address remediation, demolition, public improvements and other work to prepare the site for modern industrial use. The city is hoping to receive another $9 million for the project in state and federal grants.

The purchase agreement is pending the approval of the Common Council.

"Pending their accepting it, we’ve offered to sell it to them for that," said Brian Bjodstrup, general manager of Milwaukee Industrial Trade Center.

Previously, city officials and Milwaukee Industrial Trade Center were involved in a legal dispute related to the property. The sale is part of an agreement that ends that dispute, Bjodstrup said.

"This would clear that up," he said.

The property, located in the central city’s 30th Street Industrial Corridor, is bounded roughly by West Capitol Drive, the Soo Line railroad tracks, West Townsend Street and North 27th Street.

City officials want to clean up the property and prepare it for eventual redevelopment. They hope to attract 700 to 1,000 jobs to the site.

City officials say this project will be similar in size and scope to the Menomonee Valley redevelopment project. Several businesses have moved to property in the west end of the valley that was redeveloped by the city.

Department of City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux said the redevelopment project would require extensive environmental assessment and remediation work, as well as public improvements before it could be ready to attract new businesses.

Marcoux said the remediation work could take at least two years.

"The city is taking on a significant challenge with the acquisition of this site," Milwaukee Mayor Barrett said. "In the long-run, cleaning up this site will put us in a better position to attract and grow a variety of businesses at one of the largest former industrial properties in Milwaukee. The longer we wait to take this on, the more expensive the clean-up will be.”

The Tower site has the potential to be a major job producer for the City of Milwaukee, said Alderman Ashanti Hamilton.

"Moving forward with the purchase of this land puts us in position to redevelop it to its highest and best use," he said.

"This is the right time for the city to make this investment for its people," said Alderman Willie Wade, who also represents part of the area that includes the former Tower Automotive site. "Industrial land in a populated area is at a premium, especially when it is located near its workforce and on major transportation routes, as evident by the six new companies located in the Menomonee Valley."

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