APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Major changes are officially coming to downtown Appleton.
On Wednesday night, Appleton Alders approved a development agreement with Fox Commons Property, LLC for a mixed-use development project that will include housing, healthcare, retail, commercial business, and more at the city center plaza property.
The agreement passed unanimously
Lawrence University officials have confirmed they will use the new property, called Fox Commons, for student housing, and Prevea and Mosaic Health have both confirmed that they will be tenants as well.
“To move into this particular complex would allow us to continue that service and enhance it with additional services and be in the middle of a district that serves a larger number of neighbors,” said Lee Vogel with Mosaic Family Health.
“Our focus is adding on to the vibrancy of the downtown district, improving the connectivity between College Avenue and the College North neighborhood,” said Mayor Jake Woodford.
The city said that the project costs about $33.6 million and it’s about a 35,000 square foot space.
For part of that, developers have requested a pay-as-they-go tax increment financing (TIF) plan that totals just under $4.4 million.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, tax increment financing is a financing option that allows municipalities to fund infrastructure projects through property tax revenue on newly developed property. As property value rises, the municipality uses the property tax paid on that development to pay for the project.
City officials said that the developer must abide by the terms of their agreement with the city to access the tax dollars. The idea is that after the project costs get paid the municipality can end the tax incremental district and then then levy taxes on the value of the new development.
“Tax increment financing is one of the few tools that local municipalities have to support development and redevelopment,” said Woodford.
Work on the new Fox Commons will begin this summer and developers said they are taking care of the current clients in the building as well.
“A lot of conversation has been centered around existing tenants in the building, especially on the first floor, we don’t have to move anybody out of the first floor at this point, we’re kind of in negotiations with them on what their short-term plan is or their long-term plan to make this a permanent home for them,” said Alex Brewer a developer for Boldt.