TID approved by the City Plan Commission

Tax Incremental District (TID) #15 was unanimously approved last night at the City Plan Commission.  Three related agenda items were all approved for the property that represents the old KYF Building in Library Park, in downtown Kenosha.  The first had to do with designating the district as a blighted area.  As explained by Zohrab Khaligian, community development specialist, at least 50% of an area needs to be blighted and in need of rehabilitation, or be an industrial user, in order to be considered as a TID.  A video was presented of the inside of the building showing peeling paint, holes in the ceilings, the condition of the single rooms upstairs, etc.  Khaligian stated, “This building is no longer feasible to be used as a recreation facility.  It will require a lot of money to renovate this building.”

John Fox, a Kenosha resident and downtown business owner, stated that he was against this designation.  He stated that the building was in the same condition when it was bought.  The owner of the property across the street from the building also spoke against the TID.  He said that when he converted his building into apartments 8-1/2 years ago, he invested a lot of money with no help from the city.  He said that “the owner knew what he was buying when he bought the building.  The ceiling on the third floor was leaking.  The city is giving away all this money ($300,000).  It’s not fair.”

David Nankin, the developer from Chicago who owns the building, said that the last three or four years that he’s owned the 80-year-old building, it has fallen into disrepair.

John Antaramian, former mayor of Kenosha, tried to clear up some confusion.  He said that, one year ago, the rezoning change was approved.  The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) changed the rules.  Rehabbing an old building instead of tearing it down gives the project more points on the grant application.  The money will be recouped over ten years.

Alderperson Chris Schwartz said that she has heard mixed reviews from residents of her district.  “People want to save the building.  They don’t want another vacant building in their district.”

Fox said that, when the rezoning took place, it was not made public that a TID was going in.

Alderperson Anthony Kennedy said that he was in support of the TID, even though he thought that they were “pushing the definition of blight with this one.”  Alderperson Jan Michalski stated that he was in support, but he also through that they were “pushing the envelope of blight.”  Mayor Keith Bosman thought that they should get the building up and occupied.  “We should go forward for a lot of reasons,” he said.

Kathryn Comstock said that she was supporting this one.  “But, there are too many low income housing units being brought to the downtown area.  I will do this, but I may not support any other one that comes down the line in the future,” she said.

The roll call vote was unanimously approved.

The second agenda item was to create the TID, and Fox against spoke against it.  “I don’t approve.  It will not be a positive thing for the future.  I hope that you don’t pass it.”  It was approved unanimously by a voice vote.

The third item was to adopt a project plan for the TID.  The developer is investing $8 million.  Khaligian said, “As long as the development is built, any new taxes continue to be divided by the city, the county, the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD), and Gateway Technical College.  Any new taxes (up to $300,000) will be reimbursed to the owner.  This is on taxes he’s going to pay.  The only way this works is if the developer builds out the space and pays the increased taxes.  Then, he’ll receive the $300,000 back.  This is how the grant works.  If he doesn’t build, there will be no $300,000.”

This third item was also approved unanimously by a voice vote.

Fox again spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting at the end.  “I’m amazed that this was designated as a blighted area.  I was not notified that this was going to be a TID when it was rezoned.  Some things never change in this city,” he said.

To read the previous article regarding this building, click here:  City Plan Commission Approves KYF Project.

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