March 16, 2010

TIF district's rebirth holds promise for lakefront

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.


  1. Another Dickert failure buying time with stretched taxpayer dollars.


  2. Anon 10:08. Do you have anything good to say abot Racine?

  3. Racine Post you are incorrect on your information. The City of Kenosha was and is still allowed to have all of their TIF districts opened for a maximum 47 years. So the City of Racine is not the only City that was allowed the unique legislator tool. The City of Kenosha was able to do this because of their lakefront TIF, where it was stalled for 10 years, the Wisconsin Legislator allowed an exception to the TIF and any future TIF districts to be open a maximum 47 years.

  4. Mayor Dickert says "I am working hard to find businesses to develop vacant land". Yet when a developer calls his office in hope of getting information he does not return their calls?

    Racine be prepared for what is to come, it may shock some but Alderman Helding has stepped up to the plate and taken charge, thus getting a very strong developer the info he requested! Great job Greg!! Thank You!!

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Joshua Abraham Norton I see wants to play with land again. Point Blue II like Point Blue 1 will fail. Yes in the middle of a depression that is only getting worse is a great time for a development.

    Yes John 1 needs his meds changed

  7. Helding for Mayor 20113/17/2010 7:10 AM


  8. Nope no current politician needs to be mayor at this point. We need new blood and no BS

  9. Joshua Abraham Norton for Mayor

  10. He all ready is.

  11. Anon 3:20 writes; "Racine Post you are incorrect on your information..."

    Sorry, Anon, but we stand by the story, although we don't know anything specifically about Kenosha's TIFs.

    TIF's in Wisconsin are 27 years, period, except for one or two -- none in place now, we're told -- that got a two- or three-year extension on an ad hoc basis because they hadn't paid off their debt and a community went hat-in-hand to the Legislature.

    Racine's extension is unique, because it has paid off all its debt, and is being permitted, thanks to the special enabling legislation, to continue for 10 years as a "donor" TIF.

    As for your 47-year belief, it ain't so. There was a proposal last year to extend TIFs to 40 years -- not 47 -- and while that has passed through committee, it has not yet been brought to a vote in the Assembly. Or the Senate. Or to the governor's desk.

  12. No you are incorrect. Contact the City of Kenosha. I am correct because I conducted a report on the City of Kenosha and met with Keosha staff.

    I was told by several staff members that are allowed to have any TID open for a maximum 47 years.

  13. Dickert = EPIC FAILURE


    This will bring everyone to Racine!
    Thank you Joshua Abraham Norton doing a great job..... enriching your crones!

  15. It's difficult to justify TIFs where development is bound to occur anyway, like premium lakefront property.