Pointe Blue is dead, long live ... um, whatever its successor is called. And whenever it appears.
The city outlined its plans to move ahead with steps that will pave the way for that successor at a meeting today of the Joint Review Board, which holds sway over the city's Tax Increment Financing Districts -- one of which woulda/coulda been the site of the aforementioned condo development that came along at exactly the wrong time.
But that was then, this is now. The Legislature gave Racine a unique tool -- nobody else in Wisconsin has one like it. Wisconsin Act 67 of 2009 was enabling legislation permitting a ten-year extension of the city's Lakefront Tax Increment Financing District #2, thus allowing Racine to reserve for another 10 years its substantial cashflow for development. Without the legislation, TIF #2 was set to expire, having reached the end of its legislatively allowed lifespan of 27 years.
TIF #2 kicked off $1,117,339 last year, so this is no inconsequential deal. In 2010, the windfall is $1,150,537. Without the extension, this money would be divided among all the relevant taxing districts: Racine County, say, and Racine Unified School District. With the extension, the money belongs to City Hall and only to City Hall.
Until recently, this "donor" TIF, having paid off all its own debts, has been shoring up some of the city's "laggard" TIF districts, giving $59,529 of its largesse to TIF #3, the JT/Shoop TIF; $811,503 to Downtown's TIF #6; and $246,306 to State Street's TIF #8. "We thank you for letting us share, because TIF #3 would never have paid off," said city finance director David Brown.
TIF #3 will be paid off this year, and some others, paid or not, will expire anyway, their 27 years over. TIF #5, the Olsen Industrial Park, will be done in 2012; it, too, is a donor, kicking off $453,725 last year , almost evenly divided between Downtown TIF #6 and State Street TIF #8.
But because of the enabling legislation, limited to this one TIF district in all of Wisconsin, the Lakefront TIF #2 still holds promise for the city, offering its not inconsiderable cashflow to help prepare the former Walker Manufacturing Site, and the Pugh Marina site, for future development. Part of that land is encompassed by TIF #14, which was going to be Pointe Blue...and now has no mapped-out future except for a share of donor cash from TIF #2.
City Development Director Brian O'Connell noted that Pointe Blue was a development from another era, from "back in the day" when a single developer came in with a diverse plan for the entire piece of land. He doesn't expect that to happen again, instead looking to the phased-in-over-time development of Gaslight Point, or Kenosha's lakefront.
Still, work needs to be done to get the land ready for whatever project plans arise. The Walker site will need environmental remediation -- a cleanup of whatever Walker left underground. And there are infrastructure needs -- the land along the waterfront is lower than Main Street, and any water and sewerage needs will require a lift station. TIF #2's donor money may be all-but spent.
The city has prepared a "draft timetable" to prepare a project plan, present it to the Joint Review Board, the Plan Commission and the Common Council. All the approvals need to be completed by early June, for presentation to the State, to take advantage of that enabling legislation that makes it all possible.
And, then, of course, to wait for developers to beat a path to our lakefront -- again.