Jul 30, 2014
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Concerns Over Public Financing Delayed The Corners Project

Plans to open new retail development — including a Von Maur store — pushed back more than a year because of worries about how long it would take to repay town's investment, newspaper reports.

Concerns Over Public Financing Delayed The Corners Project Concerns Over Public Financing Delayed The Corners Project Concerns Over Public Financing Delayed The Corners Project

When plans to open a shopping center in the Town of Brookfield that would house Wisconsin's first Von Maur department store were unveiled in March 2011, developers had hoped to start construction that summer — and to be open for business by the 2012 holiday season.

Seventeen months later, however, construction on The Corners has yet to begin and officials now say the development, located at Blue Mound Road near Barker Road, probably won't open until November 2014.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday that the much of the delay is due to concerns about how many years it would take the development's property taxes to pay off the town's debt.

The Town Board earlier this month approved a timeline for the creation of a  that would pave the way for construction to begin.

The tax incremental financing district would help fund public and private improvements — including an large underground parking structure, as well as sewer, water and road work.

See Patch's complete coverage of The Corners / Van Maur development

The town would borrow the funds, which would be repaid by property taxes collected on the new construction. Those taxes would be diverted from the town's general fund and the school district, county and state until the borrowing debt was paid.

The Journal Sentinel reviewed public records that showed that the Marcus Corp., which is developing the project, and town officials were talking about a possible project as early as May 2010.

By August 2011, concerns were being raised about how long it would take for property tax revenue generated by The Corners to pay back the town's debt, the newspaper reported.An email that month to James Hammes, the town's attorney, from Michael Hatch, a Marcus Corp. attorney, said the town's tax financing district would be limited to a 16-year payback period — the most allowed by state law, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Hatch, in his email, mentioned the possibility of asking the Legislature to extend that o 27 years. Hammes writes that the other option is to "go back to the drawing board and determine how we can do this within the 16-year limits."

However, town officials later dropped the possibility of seeking more time to pay off the debt, the newspaper said.

Town Administrator Rick Czopp told Patch earlier this month that the town is planning to have the TIF paid off within 15 years. At that point, the project's tax revenue would start to be shared with the school district, county, state and technical college.

While the length of the proposed TIF hasn't changed, the boundaries of the districts have expanded to include industrial properties east to Janacek Road.

The estimated amount of TIF borrowing for public and private improvements had been $25 to $30 million. But it's now closer to $30 to $35 million, with the expanded boundaries.

Public hearings on the tax incremental financing district plan are expected to be held in October, with the Town Board voting on it by the end of November.

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