John Stibal retiring as West Allis development director

Will continue as head of community-development entity FIRE

West Allis Mayor Dan Devine and director of develpoment John Stibal stroll through the West Allis Farmers Market.

Last updated on December 31st, 2020 at 01:25 pm

John Stibal is retiring from his post as director of development for the city of West Allis.

John Stibal

Stibal announced in an email that today is his last day as development director. He will, however, continue serving as president — and now chief executive officer — of First-Ring Industrial Redevelopment Enterprise Inc.

FIRE is a community development financial entity that provides financing to businesses in low-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties. Stibal said in an interview with BizTimes that with his retirement from the city, he will now act as a part-time consultant answering to the FIRE Board as president and CEO.

It is funded through New Markets tax credits, awarded annually by the Community Development Financial Institution fund under the U.S. Treasury Department. The tax credits allow FIRE to make equity-like low interest seven-year loans to businesses located in low-income neighborhoods.

Stibal started working at the city more than 30 years ago, in 1989.

During his tenure, Stibal oversaw efforts to turn things around for West Allis in terms of real estate development and economic growth.

Major projects include the Quad/Graphics Inc. printing plant at the former Giddings & Lewis site, which Stibal said brought more than 800 jobs to the city; the $50 million redevelopment of the former Allis-Chalmers site into the Summit Place office complex in 2004; the ongoing $130 million-plus Allis Yards mixed-use project, which is redeveloping former Allis-Chalmers buildings into offices, retail, event space and a hotel; and the Six Points project, another ongoing mixed-use development next to the West Allis Farmers Market that includes medical offices, apartments and food-based commercial spaces.

Stibal said the city has worked closely with businesses and developers to ensure these and other projects moved forward. The city has used tools such as tax incremental financing or creative thinking to solve issues, he said. Such was the case with the Quad/Graphics plant, in which the city acquired the property from Giddings & Lewis, rid it of its environmental issues and then sold it to Quad/Graphics on a land sale contract.

“That’s the kind of role the city has played, is identifying a problem as to why a project can’t proceed, solving that particular problem, and reaping the success from that particular development,” Stibal said.

These and other major projects represent a turnaround in a town that lost 8,500 manufacturing jobs and 10,000 residents between 1979 and 1989. Stibal’s arrival in West Allis coincided with the city’s decision to get aggressive about attracting redevelopment.

BizTimes extensively covered West Allis’ efforts to revitalize the community and change peoples’ perceptions of it in a 2016 cover story.

Stibal said the future looks even brighter for the city.

“I think you’re probably going to continue to see an acceleration of redevelopment,” he said. “Projects in the pipeline that are being explored are exciting and dynamic.”

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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