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City's only TIF district has exceeded projections

Oct. 25, 2010

Remember the last time an investment earned more than anticipated?

Well, one needs to look no further than the southwest corner of Bluemound and Moorland roads to find such a modern market anomaly.

Brookfield's only tax-incremental financing district has drawn more than $88 million in new development since its establishment in 2004 - exceeding projections by 53 percent.

The Common Council created the TIF district to finance more than $30 million in infrastructure improvements in the Brookfield Square/Executive Drive area over 23 years.

The goal is to generate $95 million in new development and use its tax revenue to fund infrastructure improvements through 2027. The new development value would then be added to the city's tax base.

Early progress helps

Positive economic news is a refreshing change. The bulk of development, however, occurred before the financial meltdown in 2008.

"The economy was very strong between the creation of the TIF district in 2004 through 2008. During that four-year period the real estate market was a very attractive investment," said Dan Ertl, director of community development.

New stores popped up outside Brookfield Square in those four years. M&I University was built on Executive Drive. The area saw $77.8 million in new development by the end of 2008.

"Since that time the real estate market has been depressed and there has been minimal new development there," Ertl said.

City officials envisioned residential development of under-used office space and parking lots along Executive Drive, which the market hasn't allowed.

However, the first phase of Georgetown Square luxury apartments on Wisconsin Avenue is complete. A new 54-unit apartment complex on Wisconsin Avenue is also moving forward, Ertl said.

Improvements on tap

Extending Wisconsin Avenue to Pilgrim Parkway and to Executive Drive to alleviate traffic congestion on Bluemound Road are key components of infrastructure improvement plans.

Director of Public Works Tom Grisa said the city is conducting a traffic-impact analysis of the Pilgrim Parkway extension into Elm Grove.

"It would not only affect traffic in Brookfield but traffic in Elm Grove as well. We've been working with Elm Grove to establish what the scope would be," he said.

The Executive Drive extension is slated to coincide with a Department of Transportation effort to reconstruct Bluemound Road in 2012.

Other water and sewer upgrades envisioned in the area are up in the air.

"We aren't sure what development there will be, or what infrastructure we'll need to support it," Grisa said.

Debate continues

Ideological differences of opinion regarding the establishment of the TIF district remain.

Alderman Christopher Blackburn voted against its adoption in 2004. At the time he said TIF districts shouldn't be used to fund infrastructure projects.

Since then, he has argued that much of the development would have come to the area without adoption of the TIF district.

Ertl said some of the development likely would have come without the TIF district, but some of it would not have.

"Now more than ever before you can make a case for tax-incremental financing districts because it's one of the only tools cities have to induce real estate reinvestment that the private sector cannot induce on its own," Ertl said.

By the numbers

$88 million

The value of new development since creation of the TIF district in 2004

53 percent

The margin by which development has exceeded expectations

$219 million

The current total value of property within the district

$31 million

The cost of infrastructure projects anticipated in the TIF district through 2027, including financing costs

A closer look

Brookfield's sole active tax-incremental financing district encompasses about 148 acres and 23 properties generally west of Moorland Road, and both north and south of Moorland Road. While shops inside Brookfield Square Mall are not included in the TIF district, numerous free-standing buildings on the property are.

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