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Economy won't drive 27th Street corridor

Cities' officials plan for corridor rehab

Oct. 30, 2008

Even in a sputtering economy, Franklin and Oak Creek officials remain confident the multibillion-dollar redevelopment of South 27th Street will not stall, at least not for long.

The Joint 27th Street Steering Committee met Oct. 23, in part, to discuss the possible dampening effect a recession might have on private investment opportunities along the corridor.

But committee members said the recent financial market rollercoaster ride will not deter redevelopment progress.

Solid position

“We’re in a very good spot,” said Steven Olson, a Franklin alderman and committee member. “This is a 30-year plan with $2 billion of investment. It is going to result in $40 million per year for (both) taxing jurisdictions and a potential of 40,000 jobs.”

Olson cautioned against making future plans based solely on what is occurring today, adding he has no reason to believe the economic picture will not improve within the next year.

He recalled Franklin surviving an economic crisis 15 years ago, not long after its business park was developed. The park survived and has since flourished, Olson said.

Committee member Marie Myszkowski of Oak Creek said redevelopment work has gone too far to be placed on the back burner.

Many people fear such a long-term plan will sting them through property taxes but former committee chairman, Ted Grintjes, said the project is outside the operating budgets of both cities.

“A long-term plan is not going to affect a person’s taxes this year,” he said. “The purpose of this is to give elected officials a chance to do long-term planning and that’s what you’re doing here.”

TIF funding

The project is funded through tax-incremental financing, a mechanism that allows municipalities to borrow money to fund infrastructure improvements for an area that otherwise would be difficult to develop or redevelop. The increased property tax revenue from the improved land is then diverted from the tax roll to pay off the loan.

“This is good money (spent),” Myszkowski said. “When everything comes back we’re going to be ready to take it all in.”

Myszkowski said the souring economy has had an impact on development — commercial and residential — and may have a feared slow-down effect on the pace of development along 27th Street.

For the past five years, Franklin and Oak Creek have planned and started implementing phase one of redevelopment of their shared border along the six-mile-long 27th Street corridor.

Thus far, developments established along the corridor include a Northwestern Mutual expansion, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Franklin hospital, Staybridge Suites Hotel and Liberty Corporate Preserve Business Park.

John Neville can be reached at (262) 446-6609.

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