The West Bend Finance Committee met in closed session for nearly 40 minutes Monday night as it discussed the sale of city property, TIF No. 5 and 9.
That 1.2-acre parcel to the south of the Museum of Wisconsin Art has been vacant for 10 years. In mid-2015 the city found itself with two offers on the same grassy space within a two-week time span.
One offer was from the Thomas J. Rolfs Foundation, Inc. and the other Bob Bach, Project Manager at P2 Development Company LLC in Saukville. He proposed a $5 million housing development.
That housing proposal rankled some folks in the community, especially those that questioned the city’s long-term vision.
Over the past few months there have been some intense discussions regarding finances and how to lay the groundwork for a positive and fun downtown in the future.
Back in August quite a few aldermen threw in their thoughts, arguing mostly to the point of dollars and cents.
“Downtown TIF’s are tough to succeed,” District 2 alderman Steve Hutchins said. “They’re hard to develop the increment to make it successful and right now we’re trying to figure out this balancing act.”
District 3 alderman Ed Duquaine echoed Mayor Kraig Sadownikow’s thoughts on keeping the parcel green. “It would be nice but the financial aspect is a serious one,” he said. “To keep it green the financials will play a huge role.”
District 7 alderman Adam Williquette was all about the money.
“Right now the debt in TIF No. 5 and No. 9 is $12,621,667 and the whole point of the TIF is to pay that back,” he said. “Obviously it would be nice to see it stays green but green that pays us $125,000 a year forever.”
Prudence Pick Hway is president of the Board of Directors of the Museum of Wisconsin Art.
The organization withheld commenting on the senior development proposal, although Hway confirmed the board has its vision too concerning the space to the south of the museum.
“The board of directors of any institution and most importantly, nonprofits, have to concerned they have a fiduciary responsibility for the sustainability of the organization – in this case MOWA,” she said in an article last September.
“We’ve always tried to be good corporate citizens and we believe in our roll we can enhance and improve, from every aspect including quality of life and economic development, the present and future of West Bend.”
Last September Sadownikow declined to say more about the project although he did acknowledge he felt the push back on the multi-level apartment proposal.
“My job was to get punched in the face a couple of times and hopefully, if this is going to stay green, I can organize the people to get together to have that conversation,” he said.
Following Monday’s closed session, the Finance Committee returned and tabled a decision on the sale until the April 18 meeting.
A spokesperson for MOWA said the city wanted all of the paperwork on the table before making a decision.