Following a public hearing and approval by the Redevelopment Authority Tuesday evening, the city of Merrill took its first step in the creation of a new TID and residential development proposal along STH 107.
As proposed, the new TID would consist of three bordering sections. The largest and northernmost section would span from Champagne Street west to near the end of West Taylor Street and from the southern border of the Northeast-Southwest runway of Merrill Municipal Airport south to West Taylor.
The central area of the TID would span from West Taylor south to Highland Drive and from just west of Pier Street to near Edgewater Drive.
The southern area would span from just north of West Tenth Street south to the Wisconsin River and from the intersection of 10th and Superior streets west to the area southwest of Grand Avenue near the Wisconsin River.
Prior to the meeting, the joint review board met to review the plans for proposed TID 11 and heard an overview from Senior Municipal Advisor Sean Lentz of Ehlers Financial Services, who serves the city’s financial advisory needs.
According to Lentz, the 138-acre area will be classified as a “mixed use” TID and will bear a potential taxable value of $14 million over its 20-year lifespan. In addition, the TID presents prime land and opportunity for commercial, industrial and residential development.
One such development is already awaiting the green light from the city, that being a proposal from Premier Real Estate Management for a 108-unit apartment complex on the Lokemoen property at 1501 STH 107.
According to city administrator Dave Johnson, the city is still in the process of finalizing the development agreement with Premier, but the creation of the TID is the first step.
“Basically TID 11 is overlapping TID 5,” Johnson explained. “Due to the age of TID 5 there just wouldn’t be enough cash flow for this project.”
As part of the development, the city would be offering a $500,000 TIF incentive directly to the developer as well as investing close to $1 million for purchase of the property and infrastructure including water, sewer, curb and gutter and the installation of a short city street to access the complex.
The street would end in a cul de sac to allow for city and emergency vehicles to access and maneuver when needed.
If and when the TID is approved, installation of the street would begin in early summer.
Once completed, the construction of the first phase of the of the apartment complex would commence late-summer and be finished by next spring.
“The development plans call for a three-phase construction period to span over the next three years,” Johnson adds. “Each phase would consist of 36 apartment units with access roads to be installed by the developer. Once the first phase is completed, how quickly the developer can get the units rented will weigh heavily on how soon the second and third phases will begin.”
Mayor Bill Bialecki spoke enthusiastically in favor of the development on Tuesday.
“This development is very important to improving our current housing situation in the city,” he said. “The lack of suitable housing in Merrill has been brought to our attention from large employers. Now this is our chance to do something about that. This land has sat vacant for decades and is prime for development due to the many amenities nearby including the river, the Council Grounds, the dog park and the new aquatic center as well as the MARC. It’s a nice quiet area with all these things nearby and we plan to market that. I think this would be an excellent area for folks to live and the developer plans to provide nice, quality apartment housing. We are very excited about this.”
As planned, each apartment unit will come with an array of amenities including attached walk-in garages and some units designed with the apartment living area above the garage.
“Premier has apartment complexes all over the state including Wausau, Stevens Point and Plover,” Bialecki adds. “They are known for building and maintaining very nice apartment complexes and we are excited to have them come to Merrill and build.”
Following Tuesday’s approval, the proposal will now be passed on for Common Council approval May 10 and final Joint Review Board approval on May 31.
In other matters Tuesday, the RDA unanimously approved a development agreement between the city and A Taylor Strategic Industries LLC for a $1.2 million expansion of Nelson’s Powerhouse to include a 7,500-square-foot showroom and service center as well as a 7,200-square-foot supplementary warehouse on the vacant property south of Merrill Manufacturing.
Upon completion and occupancy of the expansion, the city would then contribute development incentives of $45,000 annually for a total of $225,000 over four years. In turn, the expansion is estimated to generate $700,000 of tax increment over the remaining life of the west side TID (8).
“This is just what we need on the west side,” said 3rd District alderman Ryan Schwartzman prior to motioning for approval of the measure. “This is the sort of development we have been looking for in that area.”