Redevelopment opportunities and resources

Redevelopment Stimulates Investment In Wisconsin

If you took a stroll down Milwaukee’s 30th Street in the late 1800s, you would have witnessed a vibrant industrial community, packed with factories that were once home to the likes of the city’s manufacturing powerhouses Tower Automotive and A.O. Smith Corp. Over the years, many of these companies relocated or closed their doors causing the massive factories to stand vacant. As industries in the state have progressed throughout the decades, vacant buildings and idle sites have become a common sight in Milwaukee and many other Wisconsin communities.

To remedy this issue, the WEDC is working with Wisconsin communities to help them rediscover the splendor of “what once was.” The collaboration between WEDC and both large and small communities throughout the state demonstrates how the organization is committed to helping shape community cornerstones. Through WEDC programs and grants such as Idle Industrial Sites Redevelopment, Brownfield Redevelopment, and the Historic Preservation Tax Credit (HTC) and Qualified Rehabilitated Buildings Tax Credit (QRTC), the state is helping spur redevelopment and reinvestment into Wisconsin’s aging communities.


Idle Industrial Sites Redevelopment

The Idle Industrial Sites Redevelopment Program offers grants of up to $1 million to Wisconsin communities for implementation of redevelopment plans for large industrial sites that have been idle, abandoned, or underutilized for a period of at least five years. Approved projects can use funds for demolition, environmental remediation, or site-specific improvements defined in a redevelopment plan to advance the site to shovel ready status or enhance the site’s market attractiveness.

In the program’s first year, the state selected six communities to receive $5.1 million in Idle Sites grants – Beloit, Milwaukee, Port Edwards and Wausau each will receive $1 million, while Waterloo will receive $584,000, and Madison was granted $534,000 under the program. The grants are meant to help stimulate investment and job creation on manufacturing sites that have been idle or underutilized. They also help make the sites more attractive to developers, site selectors and businesses. Among the sites is a 20-acre parcel that includes Milwaukee’s 30th Street Industrial Corridor. Milwaukee officials believe the grant will provide the final piece of funding needed to get the site ready for development by mid-2014.

In addition to the Milwaukee parcel, other sites included in the program are:

  • Beloit: The 16-acre former Beloit Iron Works site. A portion of the existing Ironworks building will be razed to create two buildings that will have the capacity for 1,400 employees.
  • Madison: A 28-acre site that once housed the Royster-Clark fertilizer manufacturing plant. The site is part of a 60-acre proposed development that calls for homes, apartments, and commercial and retail space.
  • Port Edwards: A 193-acre site that was a mill owned by Domtar Corp. City officials are planning a research and business park on the site.
  • Waterloo: A 20-acre site along the Maunesha River in the heart of the historic downtown of this Jefferson County community. The city plans to work with public and private partners to renovate an existing office building, construct apartments and create a riverfront park.
  • Wausau: A 21-acre site along the Wisconsin River that the city plans to revitalize as part of its $82 million East Riverfront Redevelopment effort.


Brownfield Redevelopment Grant

Under the Brownfield (BF) Grant, WEDC will provide funds to local governments, businesses, non-profits and individuals for redeveloping commercial and industrial sites that have been adversely affected by environmental contamination. It is estimated that Wisconsin has more than 10,000 Brownfield sites and the WEDC is actively seeking to convert more contaminated sites into productive and shovel ready properties that are attractive for redevelopment. Projects are evaluated based on the extent of environmental contamination, viability and feasibility factors, the potential economic development benefits, financial commitment of the applicants, and the additional investment projects are likely to generate.

In December 2013, WEDC awarded a Brownfield Redevelopment Grant of up to $500,000 to developer T. Wall Enterprises LLC for construction of a $12 million mixed-use development in downtown Green Bay. Under the grant, WEDC will reimburse the developer for eligible remediation work that will take place at the 0.7-acre property located at 100 Main St., a site that has remained vacant for more than a decade. The developer will remove adversely impacted soil on the site and dispose of the contaminated material at an engineered landfill.

The new development, called CityDeck Landing, will feature 76 market-rate apartments and 7,000 square feet of retail space.


Historic Tax Preservation Credit and the Qualified Rehabilitated Buildings Tax Credit

Preserving the commercial buildings of yesteryear is critical to maintaining strong economic interest in the communities they serve. The Wisconsin Historical Society and the WEDC assist building owners in these preservation efforts with the Historic Preservation Tax Credit (HTC) and the Qualified Rehabilitated Buildings Tax Credit (QRTC).

The Historic Preservation Tax Credit applies to certified historic buildings. Under the newly expanded program, owners of eligible buildings may receive a state income tax credit for 20 percent of the qualified rehabilitated expenditures (an increase from 10 percent in January 2014). The Qualified Rehabilitated Buildings Tax Credit provides tax credits of 20 percent on the cost of eligible work to owners of buildings constructed before 1936 that are not considered historic properties.

In March 2014, WEDC awarded the first tax credits of the expanded Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program for the expansion of Titletown Brewery in Green Bay. The developer, DDL Holdings, will receive up to $880,000 in tax credits to rehabilitate the former Larsen Canning Co. buildings in downtown Green Bay. The Titletown project includes brewery expansion, retail and office space and a banquet facility. The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by August 2014.

Visit this page to find more information on the scope of programs the state provides to help communities spur local economic development. And to help navigate the options, WEDC’s Regional Economic Development Directors are available to offer personalized support for the specific needs of your community, coordinating resources from various partner organizations as needed. Find a Director in your region here.

(April 2014)