City green lights Whispering Pines purchase, Nelson’s Powerhouse development
A matter laid to rest last year came back to the table for consideration and discussion at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting; with the possible $575,000 purchase of 6.5 acres of land in the Whispering Pines Mobile Home Park. The park is located on East Main Street and owned by Illinois based Continental Properties (Badger Portfolio LLC).
As the resolution stated, the purchase would include two tax parcels and would be intended to facilitate commercial redevelopment. The city had previously purchased adjacent parcels at 2604 and 2606 East Main Street.
During discussion Tuesday, 2nd District Alderman Pete Lokemoen spoke in opposition to the purchase; questioning the city’s involvement in real estate affairs.
“I don’t believe the city should be involved in real estate speculation. I believe this is a property which the current owner could put out for investors, or sell the property to people who wish to utilize the property. I can see spending money for infrastructure, roads or demolition of blight. I just don’t think we should be involved in commercial real estate speculation.”
6th District alderwoman Mary Ball questioned whether the city had met pre-determined criteria for the purchase – including a clean site and a project plan.
The city had previously considered a similar purchase of a parcel of land from the park last fall. However, that plan called for a $750,000 purchase, $150,000 of which would be a development incentive to relocate 19 homes currently standing on the property. The matter was met with staunch opposition from community members and park residents and was eventually tabled indefinitely last September.
According to City Administrator Dave Johnson Tuesday night, circumstances have apparently changed at the park.
“This site will be a clear site when we make the purchase,” he stated. “We are not moving anyone on or off the property. The sale will be for a clean site. Continental Properties wants to sell the property but they don’t want to sell it in parcels, sell it all in one piece.”
8th District alderman Tim Meehean indicated Continental Properties has already begun clearing residents from the property.
“Continental Properties is clearing their properties (including property on River Street) whether we buy it or not. They will ask people to move, many have moved already. They are offering the property and we are buying.”
“We are buying a vacant site,” added City Finance Director Kathy Unertl. “It is up to Continental Properties to deal with their leases. The city needs vacant land for development and that’s what TIDs are for, to develop properties.”
As Unertl alluded to, the $575,000 to purchase the site will be paid out of funds from TID #3; which to date is the city’s most profitable TID.
The measure ultimately passed 7-1; Lokemoen dissenting.
Following approval of the Whispering Pines purchase, the Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing a development agreement between the city and TSI State Property, LLC (Nelson’s Power House). The agreement would involve the transfer of 1.5 acres of property from the Whispering Pines parcel to Nelson’s, for the development of two new buildings; a 7,500 square-foot showroom and a 7,200 square-foot warehouse. The development would represent an owner investment of about $1,215,000 and would generate a projected $263,000 in tax increment for TID #3 over the next eight years. Nelson’s would also receive a $125,000 development incentive through TID #3, in which the property is located.
The Common Council initially approved a development agreement last May, to aid construction of a brand new Nelson’s Power House facility on property off Kinzel Street. However, that site has since been determined to be undevelopable due to environmental contamination.