Dormant freight terminal site will be revived, city of West Allis says

Published on: 7/29/2013

West Allis — Redeveloping the former Yellow Freight Terminal site remains a priority in West Allis, officials stated recently.

In the past five years, the city has gone through a number of steps to bring new development to the long-dormant property, 11528 W. Rogers St., including the creation of a tax incremental financing district – the city's 10th – five years ago.

Members of the Plan Commission discussed efforts to breathe new life into the 9-acre property at a meeting last week.

Over time, the city has been acquiring sections of the site through different ownership groups. Patrick Schloss, community development manager, said the city owns two of the three parcels on the site.

'The third parcel is an unused railroad spur that splits the (TIF) district,' Schloss said.

The owner of the parcel is delinquent in 10 years of property taxes — 2002 and 2004-2012. Schloss said the county is in the process of going through foreclosure proceedings on the parcel. Plans call for it to be turned over to the city through an intergovernmental agreement.

'This process may take over a year, and the Community Development Authority is considering pursuing eminent domain to acquire the property sooner to assist redevelopment,' Schloss said.

The CDA, a separate governing body created by the Common Council, oversees a variety of efforts throughout West Allis, including blight elimination and redevelopment projects. The Yellow Freight Terminal site has been a frequent item on recent CDA agendas.

Mayor Dan Devine, who chairs the Plan Commission, said the city has received queries from 'four interested parties' looking to develop on the site.

'Nothing's been announced publically yet,' Devine said. 'We're looking at what would be the best quality development.'

Devine said he and other city officials are interested in a number of factors with prospective developers — including the number of jobs that would be created.

Redevelopment of the site has been on the city's radar for a number of years. But Schloss said the railroad spur has posed challenges in the past.

'Acquiring this property will assist redevelopment, whether this area is redeveloped as a single development or two individual developments,' Schloss said.

At their recent meeting, commissioners briefly discussed how the site fits into the city's 2030 future land use plan — a guiding document that outlines a number of objectives for development projects throughout the city.

The document states the ideal development for the former Yellow Freight Terminal site would be for industrial and office use.

The CDA is expected to continue discussing redevelopment efforts and possible eminent domain proceedings at a meeting in August.