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By Rex Davenport
Special to Racine County Eye

As Racine County waits for what may—or may not—become the massive Foxconn Technology Group industrial complex, area communities must speculate on how that project may affect other growth and development plans. The City of Racine finds itself in such a position as it moves forward with a massive proposed project in the Water Street Redevelopment Area. A re-evaluation of plans for that property is under consideration and is on the agenda for the Wednesday (Aug. 7) Common Council meeting.

[Note: The next Racine Common Council meeting will be held on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, to avoid conflict with National Night Out activities.]

Racine Mayor Cory Mason has asked the Council to extend and amend the existing contract with GRAEF/Perkins + Will for the Water Street Redevelopment Plan. Based on a recommendation of the Finance & Personnel Committee on July 22, the request would extend and amend the existing contract with GRAEF/Perkins + Will for the Water Street Redevelopment Plan. After approval of the City Attorney, the price tag on the extension would be $64,534 on a total contract of $214,534 and extend the time of the contract to Jan. 21, 2020.

Read more about the Water Street site demolition HERE

The amended total contract cost will not exceed $214,534. Funding for the contracted work would come through the City’s Intergovernmental Revenue Fund and reimbursed through a tax increment finance district.

The original plan calls for the vendor to forecast achievable revenues for the project based on market comparable research as well as to look at potential financing and operating expenses based on market research.

Water Street Redevelopment Site
Another view of the Water Street Redevelopment Site from the Root River. The First Presbyterian Church steeple and the Racine County Courthouse are in the background. (Photo by Paul Holley)

Also included in the plan are projections of capital costs, including: estimated “vertical development costs for the Preferred Concept,” preliminary framework of private-side site improvement costs, and preliminary framework of public-funded site improvement costs. The plan also calls for projections of incremental property tax revenue projections based on the projected assessed values of the development program to seek to determine any extraordinary cost issues identified in exercise.

The contract also calls for GRAEF/Perkins + Will to develop conceptual design ideas for the riverwalk areas within the Water Street Redevelopment Area. Two to three alternatives for different riverwalk layouts and design will be developed for review with City staff.

Components of the riverwalk will include:
• Access points and egress concept
• Path/walkway concept
• Significant feature concepts
• Public space connection concepts
• River ecology concepts
• Program/activity use concepts

Variables of Foxconn impact mean two scenarios

As the plan notes, “The prospect of a large-scale employment and population boost from the potential Foxconn development in Racine County could significantly alter the development trajectory of Racine and lead to more favorable market assessment conclusions. However, a fuller consideration of the impacts of Foxconn on Racine’s market potential would require a more detailed assessment.” As such, the plan calls for a two-pronged approach that takes into consideration whether the financial impact of the Foxconn development will be large, or less massive than predicted.

The plan adds: “Such an assessment would evaluate the largely uncertain impacts of Foxconn under two scenarios: 1. Higher-Impact Scenario. This scenario would consider the full employment and population impact projected by Foxconn and the State of Wisconsin. 2. Lower-Impact Scenario. This scenario would consider that the employment and population impact from Foxconn is a certain percentage less than the full impact projected by Foxconn and the State of Wisconsin.”

Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...