Mixed-use development on Third Street receives final nod
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — On Monday night, city officials gave the final nod to a mixed-use development to be built on the former Lullaby Furniture site dubbed the “North Side Yard”.
According to the agreement, the developer, Merge, LLC, would begin construction on the mixed-use development by Dec. 31 of this year, and complete the first phase, (two 4-story buildings) by Sept. 30, 2021. Phase two would then be completed by Dec. 31, 2022, which includes a residential building on the northwest side of the property, as well as eleven town-homes.
The city will provide up to $3 million in support to partially cover project costs. This is assuming that the value of the project is the full and expected amount of $25 million. If valued at $15 million or less, the city will only pay $2,250,000 to the developer. (75 percent)
However, some concern has been brought up on behalf of landlords in the area, as Amherst resident and President of the Central Wisconsin Apartment Association Noah Eschenbauch spoke to those concerns at council.
“I would ask alders to step back and look at the big picture of this project,” said Eschenbauch to council members. “The developer himself is telling you that this is not a feasible project — if it was feasible he wouldn’t be asking you for $3 Million dollars of city money on top of $2-and-a-half million dollars from the TIF district.”
Eschenbauch argues that the developer could simply collect money owed to them from the city agreement, turn around, and then sell the property. Eschenbauch argued that the developer will be lax about getting bodies into the new complex without a true investment from the developer. (Merge LLC)
However, City Attorney Logan Beveridge pointed out facts in the agreement to the contrary.
In section 9.12 of the developer’s agreement, there is a provision if Merge LLC were to sell the property, as if they were to transfer ownership at anytime, said new owners would still be bound by the same agreement.
“They’ve got skin the game long-term,” said Beveridge.
Beveridge also pointed to article 4 of the agreement which states:
“The City’s obligation to finance development costs shall be payable solely from TIF Revenues generated by the Property and shall not be a charge against the City’s general credit, taxing power, or revenue generated from other properties within Tax Incremental District No. 10”
“It’s not like they can take the $3 million dollars and skip town — that doesn’t happen,” said Mayor Mike Wiza. “We make sure and protect our interests to the best of our ability.”
This marks one of many new housing projects coming into the area, including student housing at the former Kmart site, the Berkshire senior living complex on Water Street, and the coming live-work space by Wanta & Sons on the former Belke Lumber Co. site.