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Monday, 16 May 2011
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Wauwatosa Lets Businesses Move Forward... After Some Bribery

Tomorrow the Wauwatosa Common Council is expected to approve a new plan for the Burleigh Triangle, but only after the developers made some serious concessions in their plan, and threw in a good old fashioned bribe to sweeten the deal. Last month I reported what happened when the original proposal went to the Planning Commission.  During that meeting, many concerns were brought up, mostly superficial, concerning the fact that the plan the developers who own the property didn't quite align with the "master plan" which the city had approved several years ago. Anxious not to let their money go to waste, the developers revamped their plan, and made what seems to be some pretty serious concessions:

In an attempt to keep a city-imposed delay to just two weeks, Burleigh Triangle developers came equipped with answers for a do-over with a committee Tuesday and earned approval of preliminary plans for their proposed retail complex at Highway 45 and West Burleigh Street.
HSA will fund the entire project initially but is asking the city to create a tax incremental financing district for the site to allow $8.67 million in increased tax revenue generated by the development to cover public infrastructure costs. That request currently is being reviewed by city staff.

Sweetening the pot further, HSA agreed to consider donating up to 1.5 acres of its land to the city for a future fire station. The city currently has a station nearby at 4187 N. Mayfair Rd. that is aging and considered by some as nearing obsolescence.

As the HSA trio outlined new details for the project, several of the 14 conditions the committee required in final plans for the project were addressed. Among them: an outline of how HSA expects to fully develop the site to create a dense, walkable urban development that incorporates higher valued office and residential use.

HSA had said for some time that office space was in lower demand. In fact, with the new Research Park being developed on Watertown Plank Road, the need for even more office space is likely to decrease even further. And when it comes to housing, Megan McArdle points out that we haven't even hit the bottom of the market yet. HSA is well aware of this, which is why the proposed a use of the land that would actually be profitable. The City of Wauwatosa is demanding otherwise, and it looks like HSA has little choice but to concede to those wishes if they want the right to develop their own land.

But it get's worse than that. HSA had to "sweeten" the deal and promise to give some of the land they purchased to the city for a potential new fire station. Of course, it's being called a "donation", but let's call a spade a spade. HSA is bribing the City... or is it a kick back? It's hard to tell sometimes.

Ironically, the City is looking at approving an amendment to the City Master Plan for East North Ave. During the meeting about the plan at the Planning Commission, the Mayor actually had the temerity to say that we shouldn't worry too much about the details in the plan, because many of them are "pie in the sky". This experience with the Burleigh Triangle proves how important the details in these master plans are. When developers come with plans that don't meet the "master plan", those plans will be hard to get pass the various committees and commissions in Wauwatosa. They aren't about "pie in the sky" ideas. They're about real plans, and real power to implement them.

HSA found out exactly what that means with the Burleigh Triangle, and has paid dearly to get their plans passed the city.

# Posted at 22:55 by Nick  |  Comment Feed Link No Comments  |  No Trackbacks

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