The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District sold 255 acres of land in Oak Creek for a Wispark LLC business park and a new school.
Wispark, Milwaukee, bought 169 acres of land for $5.4 million. The Oak Creek-Franklin School District bought 50 acres for $1.6 million to develop a new school. The remaining 36 acres will become a nature preserve. The property is on the southwest corner of Howell Avenue and West Oakwood Road.
The MMSD bought the land in 1985 and 1986 for $1.2 million because it planned to use it as a landfill for sludge from its wastewater treatment plants, said Michael McCabe, MMSD director of legal services. The landfill was never built because the district now converts its sludge into Milorganite and sells it.
The $7 million from the land sale will be spent on MMSD capital projects, McCabe said.
The city will negotiate a deal with Wispark to build streets, sewers and other utilities to serve the business park, said Doug Seymour, Oak Creek director of community development. The city could use tax-incremental finance money to pay for the work, he said.
To creating a TIF district, the city would borrow money to pay for site improvements and then repay the debt using increased property taxes generated by the business park.
“It’s more than about just tax base for us,” Seymour said. “It’s about really creating an environment where we can get those high-quality jobs.”
The project would help Wispark’s parent company, Wisconsin Energy Corp., fulfill its agreement to spend $20 million on development in Oak Creek, said Wispark President Jerry Franke. The utility agreed to spend the money by 2013 when it received state approval in 2003 to build the Elm Road Generating Station in Oak Creek.
The Oak Creek business park would be Wispark’s fourth along Interstate 94 in Wisconsin, alongside the GrandView Business Park in Yorkville, LakeView Corporate Park in Pleasant Prairie and Business Park of Kenosha.
“This is a time when we think we’re prepared to gear up for the next upturn in the economic cycle,” Franke said. “We think that’s going to be in two to three years.”