UWM Tosa development plan delayed as city considers financing

Published on: 7/19/2010

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's plans to create a science campus, tech-based business park and other developments at the Milwaukee County Grounds, has run into another delay--this one over a request for financial help from the City of Wauwatosa.

UWM officials are seeking $11.5 million in city funding to pay for streets and other public improvements at the development, known as Innovation Park. Those funds would be repaid by property taxes generated by privately owned buildings at the development, which is planned for east of Highway 45 and north of W. Watertown Plank Road.

UWM had hoped the city Plan Commission would consider the matter at its July meeting. But city officials say they need more time to study whether enough private development will occur to pay back the city's funds.

The Plan Commission is expected to consider the financing proposal at its Sept. 13 meeting, said Craig Dillman, county real estate manager.

Dillman spoke Monday to members of the County Board's Committee on Economic and Community Development. Committee members voted unanimously to extend a contingency deadline to Sept. 30 on the pending sale of the county-owned development site.

The County Board last voted to sell the 89-acre parcel for $13.55 million to Innovation Park LLC, an affiliate of UWM's Real Estate Foundation. The foundation is raising funds to cover the purchase price.

The university's request for a deadline extension brought a scolding from Supervisor John Weishan, a committee member, who said UWM officials had an unrealistic timeline for obtaining approvals from city officials. Weishan said the university should be better prepared to answer questions about their request for financing, and other matters. 

UWM officials said in May they are optimistic about receiving a federal grant to help fund construction of a two-story, 40,000-square-foot building at Innovation Park. The building would house UWM research functions and private businesses, and would be the first project at the development.

The Wauwatosa Common Council that month approved zoning and a preliminary master plan for Innovation Park. The university plans to begin building a street on the land in the spring of 2011.