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August 2014

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CDA to make Rockwell Development a reality

City proposes lending $6 million through TIF for downtown project

City of Oconomowoc - Tonight city government is expected to present a plan that would make the long-awaited Rockwell development a reality as well as create more downtown parking.

Through an agreement between Rockwell Development LLC and the Community Development Authority (CDA) the city plans to swap land downtown with Rockwell to create more parking and create a tax incremental financing district (TIF) to fund it.

The agreement points to the city becoming a major player in this downtown mixed-used development with an estimated value of $16 million.

In the deal the city is proposing, Rockwell would swap its property along St. Paul and Pleasant streets for city-owned parking lot behind City Hall to accommodate downtown parking. The agreement comes with high expectations that Rockwell will presell 70 percent of the 38 residential units.

Other provisions in the agreement, which the Common Council is expected to go over Tuesday night, are that those that prepurchased units in Rockwell pay 15 percent earnest money up front and that net of closing costs on the condos go toward repayment of the $6 million the CDA plans to borrow from a TIF district.

Other items in the proposed agreement are that Rockwell and the CDA would work on a design that to create improvements along Fowler Lake that add to the use and enjoyment of the area for residents.

The agreement closes with a stipulation that if Rockwell does not make progress within 120 days of approval of the agreement, the CDA could terminate all further discussions.

The agreement calls for status meetings periodically; those meetings would be keep private.

Director of Economic Development Bob Duffy said that with this proposal, the city puts an emphasis on following through with its established downtown and waterfront plans.

The plans - adopted years ago - strive to create opportunities to get more people downtown whether for shopping or to live.

A plan to enhance the Fowler Lake waterfront was adopted several years ago.

The plan aims to make the waterfront more than just the rear parking lot it is today; instead, its goal is to make it a destination.

"We feel this is important for the future prosperity of downtown, and we want to ensure that downtown succeeds," Duffy said.

Since Rockwell developers have said the main reason the project has been on hold over the last few years is financing; this proposal seems to be an innovative way the city can use TIF funds and other means to make it happen in a lagging economy.

"We're trying, as a city, to be creative and send the message that Oconomowoc is the place to develop, redevelop and live," Duffy said.

The CDA will discuss the agreement at 6 p.m. in City Hall Room 3; after that, Common Council plans to discuss it at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers.

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