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Madison Proposes Tax Increment Financing District

The city has suggested the TIF district could help deliver $115 million to South Side’s housing, streets, parks, public transit, small-business assistance and more. But TIF districts take time before they start producing revenue.

(TNS) — In an ambitious move, Madison, Wis., is seeking to create a potent tax incremental financing (TIF) district that could help deliver a record $115 million to support an array of initiatives on the fast-changing South Side.

If approved, the district would mean tens of millions of dollars for South Side housing, streets, parks, bus rapid transit stations, bike and pedestrian improvements, development loans, land purchases, small business assistance and more.

The borders of the TIF district, called TID 51, would be the Beltline, Fish Hatchery Road, John Nolen Drive and Wingra Creek. It's intended to address long-overdue infrastructure needs, historical inequities and needs from absorbing much of the town of Madison last fall, city officials said.

All told, TID 51 is projected to have $99.4 million in costs eligible for TIF funding, and $15.5 million in costs that would be repaid through assessments to property owners or with state or federal grants.

"The creation of TID 51 will allow us to make significant, needed investments in South Madison, particularly in affordable housing and small business support," Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement. "The TID 51 plan is guided by what we heard over several years of deep engagement with the South Madison community, and the projects it will fund will be shaped by community engagement as well."

To jump-start the effort, because some TIF districts take time before they start producing new tax revenue, the city also is looking to amend the project plans of two successful TIF districts on the Near East and East sides to donate $65.2 million in support of TID 51 over its first five years.

The proposals will be shared in an informational meeting at noon Friday of the Madison Joint Review Board, made up of representatives from the city, Madison School District, Dane County and Madison Area Technical College. It would have to approve any new TIF district or make changes to existing ones.

One Year In

In January 2022, the City Council adopted the South Madison Plan, which recommended the creation of a new TIF district to help address displacement due to gentrification, increase home ownership and maximize opportunities for existing residents and business owners.

With TIF, the city's most potent economic development tool, the city and other local taxing entities agree to freeze property values in an area. Tax revenues from growth are then invested in private development, initiatives or public infrastructure. When investments are repaid, the district is closed and the higher-valued property is fully returned to the tax rolls.

For TID 51, the city also intends to apply a so-called "half-mile rule" that allows the city to spend tax revenues within a half-mile of the district's boundaries.

"We recognize there's a strong, existing neighborhood there today," city Economic Development Director Matt Mikolajewski said. "We want to foster investment in South Madison in a way that respects the existing neighborhood while addressing a historic lack of investment."

Ambitious Agenda

The initiatives include:

—$6.9 million for improvements to Badger, Cypress Spray, Penn, Bowman, Heifetz and Schmidt parks, including $4 million at Penn Park for basketball courts, removal of tennis courts, a futsal court, football field improvements with lighting and spectator seating, and more.

—About $50 million for public works, including $10 million for John Nolen Drive between the Beltline and Lakeside Street, $5 million for Park Street, $5.3 million for Badger Road between Rimrock Road and Park Street, $3.75 million for an overpass at Perry Street over the Beltline, and $5 million for multiple BRT stations.

—$15 million for Community Development Authority revitalization projects: $4 million for South Transfer Point redevelopment, $5 million for land purchases and $6 million for the Village on Park mall.

—More than $22 million for low-cost housing: $10.5 million in development loans to create rental housing; $7.5 million in aid to create lower-cost, owner-occupied units; $1.4 million for a single-family home rehab program; $1.25 million to expand a rental rehab program; and $1.5 million for homebuyer's assistance.

—$19.9 million for community and economic development assistance, including $4.5 million to acquire and clean up All Metals Recycling, 1802 S. Park St.; $5 million more for land purchases; $3.5 million for loans to private developers; $4.5 million for assistance to small business; and $1.2 million to study the impact of investments.

"The proposed investments in parks, affordable housing and small business support are more significant than in past TIF districts," Mikolajewski said.

The 35-page project plan anticipates development that will occur to serve as economic "generators" of new tax revenue, including 65,000 square feet of commercial development at the corner of Badger Road and South Park Street; more than 330 housing units and commercial development at South Park Street and North Avenue; hotels around the Alliant Energy Center; and an already approved housing project to redevelop the Coliseum Bar property at John Nolen and Olin avenues.

The city, however, has learned that without significant upfront and public investment, growth through redevelopment and revitalization can be slow.

To help speed revitalization, the city intends to use a pilot TIF financing strategy for TID 51 through amendments to the project plans and boundaries of two other TIF districts.

—District 36 in the East Washington Avenue corridor on the Near East and East sides. An amendment would donate $47.2 million to TID 51 and $2.8 million to TIF district 42 in the Wingra Creek area, and provide $4.5 million to the Madison Public Market on the East Side and $500,000 for administration and professional costs.

—District 37 around Union Corners on the East Side. An amendment would donate $18 million in excess tax revenue to TID 51.

Also, the city is looking to amend an existing district on the South Side, TID 42, to provide $2.8 million for stormwater and parking structure costs at the Village on Park mall.

The City Council and Joint Review Board are expected to consider approvals of TID 51 and amendments to the three other TIF districts in the spring.

(c)2023 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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