Burleigh Triangle looked at for future fire station

Setting land aside could become part of development deal

May 11, 2011

Could a new fire station be built at the Burleigh Triangle?

It's a possibility the city would like to explore as part of the development proposed for the 70-acre site.

Developer HSA Commercial Real Estate brought more detailed preliminary plans for its project back to the Community Development Committee on Tuesday. Representatives said they will be asking the city to provide financing assistance for improvements to the triangle and an expansion of Burleigh Street.

And that may put the city in a position to ask for a few perks.

Unlike in past projects in which the city put up the money and was paid back with tax increment, in this case, the developer would assume all the risk.

Pay-as-you-go financing assistance requires the developer to get a loan; the increase in taxes on the property would generate a revenue stream that could be used to pay it back, temporarily diverting those dollars from the tax roll.

Wauwatosa would have to create a tax-incremental financing district to allow that happen.

The concept of setting aside 1.5 acres in the triangle for a future fire station has been floated for years as developers showed interest in the property. Fire Station 2 near Mayfair Road and Capitol Drive is aging and cramped, and there has been significant discussion about whether it's centrally located enough to serve the northern portion of the city.

There are no plans to build a new station right now, but having the land set aside would help for future planning, city officials said.

"We need to sell the TIF (tax-incremental financing district) to our constituents," Alderman Bobby Pantuso said. "That little bit (of land) sweetens the deal."

Tim Blum, managing director of HSA, said his company is willing to consider the request but asked that the fire chief be consulted to determine if that land is an appropriate place to operate a fire station.

That issue aside, HSA's plan for the Burleigh Triangle received unanimous support from the panel, although 14 conditions - ranging from proof of adequate sewer capacity to accommodations for pedestrian and bicycle access throughout the site - were attached.

Phase one would bring 1,500 square feet of retail space intended to attract businesses just entering the Wisconsin market. Later phases are meant to bring in office and residential components.

"I was reminded that this was a preliminary plan," Pantuso said. "We're here to get the ball rolling for you guys."

The committee met two weeks ago and put the issue on hold due to the size of the project and late hour of the discussion.

"I feel much more confidant that we covered the bases, and we do want to see this project move forward," Alderwoman Linda Nikcevich said.

The preliminary plan must get the Common Council's OK before the developer can start working toward final plans.

"This is the longest list (of conditions) I've seen for a project, but in this case I think it's appropriate," said Brian Randall, attorney for the project.


WHAT: Common Council will take action on preliminary plan for development at Burleigh Triangle

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: City Hall, 7725 W. North Ave.


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