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A look back, forward in Oak Creek Developments

Dec. 30, 2013

Oak Creek — It was a year of drawing boards and planning documents when it came to development in the city in 2013. But the new year likely will be marked with construction vehicles laying the groundwork for 500 acres of development on three major sites: Drexel Town Square, Oakview Business Park and Lakeshore Vista.

Groundbreakings are planned in March and April for the new city hall and library at Drexel Town Square, as well as the Meijer department store that will anchor the site.

Road, sign, light and sewer work will be done at all three sites in 2014.

Drexel Town Square

Drexel Town Square, a proposed redevelopment of the 85-acre former Delphi electronic manufacturing center, held the spotlight at city meetings and public forums throughout 2013. Common Council and Plan Commission members debated issues surrounding Meijer, the new city hall and library, and just how much the city would spend on the site.

On Dec. 17, the Common Council voted to increase developer incentive and infrastructure spending at Drexel Town Square by $14 million. The increase brings the total city commitment to the site to $37.5 million.

City Administrator Gerald Peterson argued that the added spending is justified because the development, once built, is projected to have a value of $210 million, an increase of about $160 million in taxable value.

The city already has issued $23.5 million in bonds to pay for infrastructure work on the site. The newly approved $14 million, Peterson said, is to be used as incentive for new developers on a site-by-site basis.

Revenue generated by the We Energies power plant will be used to pay off the city's debt related to the project. Scaffidi said the city's way of paying for the site was one of the biggest selling points for him, adding, "We don't have to do it on the backs of the property tax payers."

Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi said that many announcements will be made in early January about businesses moving into Drexel Town Square, including a hotel and possibly exercise facilities or a medical component.

Meijer has signed the check on Drexel Town Square, officially purchasing the land for its 190,000-square-foot store for $7 million on Dec. 26.

Oakview and Lakeshore

The city's other two major projects, have gone through most of the planning process as well. The city approved the site design for the 260-acre Oakview Business Park and received plans from JJR Smithgroup, who they contracted to give a complete site overview for Lakeshore Vista.

Lakeshore Vista, a 250-acre lakefront development north of Bender Park, has gone through much in 2013 and will go through more in 2014 in terms of construction work. The southernmost area, owned by multiple manufacturers who left derelict buildings and chemical spills behind, had the pollutants capped by soil.

Construction work on a park in the southern area, roads connecting that park to Bender, more remedial work and an extension of Highway 100 are slated for 2014.

The Oakview Business Park, located at Oakwood Road and Howell Avenue, will be ready for businesses to come in at the end of 2014, Scaffidi said. The city, which has committed $10 million to the project, is slated to have all infrastructure work completed by then. Most new arrivals, Peterson noted, will most likely be in the first quarter of 2015.

"You don't fix something in one or two years that's been neglected for 80-plus years," Scaffidi said. "We have tremendous challenges with multiple owners and companies that polluted the land."

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