City wants former foundry redeveloped

July 23, 2014

West Allis — As the main building at the former Milwaukee Ductile foundry was being knocked to the ground, West Allis was preparing to step in to redevelop the major site in case the demolition company that owns it fails to find a good use for it.

On the former Milwaukee Ductile site, at about 68th and Mitchell streets, the city wants to see light industrial development, said Patrick Schloss, community development manager. But the area will be included in a market study to confirm that redevelopment plan is still the best use, he said.

"Ideally, we want the highest and best use," Schloss said. But he said, "We want the private owner to do it."

Nevertheless, if the MRD Group demolition company isn't able or isn't willing to work to develop it to a high level, the city got the go-ahead recently from the Community Development Authority to step in and buy the five Milwaukee Ductile properties. Their assessed value is $718,000, Schloss said.

To help promote development by MRD or the city, the CDA is working on setting up a tax incremental finance district. Under this special taxing district, the city could borrow funds to prepare the site for new development and then would be paid back with property taxes from that new development.

Under the city's plan, fully developing the site could provide $250,000 per year in property tax relief once the city's expenses of making the TIF improvements are paid off, Schloss said. The goal is to have a development worth at least $9 million, Schloss said.

The next step will be to refine the details of the proposed TIF and hold a hearing in early fall. The plan and the TIF boundaries would then need CDA and Common Council approvals.

The city has used TIF districts to spur development in many areas, including redeveloping the former Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Corp. site and one TIF resulting in printing giant Quad/Graphics building a large plant on Highway 100.

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