Waukesha plans public financing to improve neighborhood near downtown

Fracaro's Bowling Alley at the intersection of White Rock Avenue and Moreland Boulevard was razed after a fire in 2017.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:51 pm

When a fire destroyed a historic bowling alley last year at a prominent intersection near downtown Waukesha, it became even more apparent to city officials the challenged neighborhood needed attention.

Fracaro’s Bowling Alley at the intersection of Whiterock Avenue and Moreland Boulevard was razed after a fire in 2017.

The city wants to create a $12.5 million tax incremental financing district to redevelop several properties in the Main Street and White Rock Neighborhood.

“It has buildings and infrastructure that are in various states of dilapidation and deterioration because of age or obsolescence,” according to city documents.

The neighborhood, which is one of the main gateways to downtown Waukesha, could be redeveloped; however, some of the parcels have a very high likelihood of environmental contamination.

The TIF would cover approximately 37 acres bordered by Baxter street and the eastern edge of Frame Park on the west, Moreland Boulevard on the north, a segment of the Canadian National railroad right-of-way and White Rock Avenue on the east and Main Street and Hartwell Avenue on the south.

The district would be redeveloped with a mix of residential and mixed uses, according to the project plan.

“The redevelopment of long-vacant, underutilized and dilapidated properties within the district will result in an increase in the property tax base to relieve the tax burden of residents and homeowners,” city documents state. “Development incentives will be available for projects that meet the goals of the district and would not occur but for tax incremental financing.”

The plan commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to hold a public hearing regarding the proposal.

One of the areas that needs immediate attention is the intersection of White Rock Avenue and Moreland Boulevard, the former site of Fracaro’s Lanes. Fracaro’s, at 1430 Whiterock Ave. was destroyed by fire in January 2017. The remainder of the building was razed in September.

Another major opportunity exists in the Phoenix Heights Neighborhood, where home values are 36 percent lower than the city-wide average.

The TIF would provide public financing for verifiable project costs related to mixed-use redevelopment, environmental remediation, public infrastructure and associated administrative costs, according to city documents.

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