Menomonee Falls official denies request for documents about Kohl’s HQ project

Menomonee Falls Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald has denied an open records request by BizTimes Milwaukee to review documents related to Kohl’s Corp.’s plans to build a new corporate headquarters in the village.

“I have records that fall within your request,” Fitzgerald said in a letter to BizTimes Milwaukee. “I must balance the public’s right to inspection against the public interest in nondisclosure…I conclude that such a balancing of public interests supports nondisclosure in this instance and at this time.”

In an exclusive report, BizTimes Milwaukee recently reported that Kohl’s Corp., according to several commercial real estate sources, is working on plans for a new 1 million-square-foot corporate headquarters in the Woodland Prime office park in Menomonee Falls. The company’s spokespersons have declined to comment on the project.

Village officials have acknowledged discussions with Kohl’s about the project, but have not disclosed any details.

Kohl’s executives, in addition to discussing their headquarters plans, could also be discussing potential village assistance for the project, such as tax incremental financing (TIF).

When asked directly by BizTimes Milwaukee if he could comment on the nature of the village’s discussions with Kohl’s, or if he could say whether Kohl’s was seeking financial assistance from the village for the project, Fitzgerald said, “No, I can’t. My hands are tied.”

In denying BizTimes Milwaukee‘s request for public records related to the Kohl’s headquarters project, Fitzgerald said the state’s open records law allows the village to deny access to records when there is a greater public interest in maintaining confidentiality related to economic development projects.

“Premature disclosure at this time could undermine the important public policy objective of economic development,” Fitzgerald said. “Such disclosure could also undermine confidence in the ability of the village to induce businesses to locate or expand in Menomonee Falls. Finally, such disclosure could retard economic development in Menomonee Falls and in this state.”

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