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RACINE- The former historic Horlick Manufacturing site is under renovation. The first renovated building at Belle City Square will soon open. The Belle City Square is a 16-acre site along Northwestern Avenue. The first apartment building’s name was officially announced today.

Developed by J. Jeffers & Company, the City of Racine supported the renovation through a tax incremental finance district and other loans/grant incentives. Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development’s (WHEDA) partnership provides affordable housing tax credits. Lutheran Social Services also supports the development.

A TIF district — short for tax incremental finance district — is a development tool municipalities can use to attract business. The way it works is that a financing district is created and a base value of that district is established by the taxing jurisdictions. The increased value of the property is still charged at the base rate, but the district uses the increased tax revenue to pay for the infrastructure projects.

“Today, we celebrate the past and also embrace a beautiful future as we officially name Belle City Square and open our first building on site,” said Josh Jeffers, president & CEO of J. Jeffers & Co. “Many partners came together to envision, redevelop and rejuvenate this property, and we appreciate that partnership and support. Today’s opening is just the beginning.”

Horlick Malted Milk Company Turns Belle City Square

The Horlick Malted Milk Company operated in Racine from 1873 to 1975 but is now home to Belle City Square. The industrial complex and all of its former operations are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. When purchased in 2018 by J. Jeffers & Company, the property was in a state of despair. However, the buildings have taken a complete turn for the better.

J. Jeffers & Company’s CEO and President, Josh Jeffers, says the project is “the best historic rehab” that their company has been a part of yet. The Belle City Square embraces the history of Racine’s former Horlick manufacturing site. Positively, Jeffers explained that this is “just the beginning.”

The buildings that once faced hazardous and environmental concerns are now safe and affordable housing for Racine residents. This rich piece of Racine history now serves a new purpose in the community.

“At WHEDA they believe that access to safe, affordable housing is critical to building equity, inclusion and opportunity,” Altoro said.

The Arabella

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Tuesday at Belle City Square, 2100 Northwestern Ave., Jeffers, said, “We envision a revival,” and that’s what is being created at the historic site.

Belle City Square

“Belle City,” is an iconic nickname for the City of Racine, which is where the developer drew his inspiration. “The Arabella” apartments are the first historically renovated buildings within the lot. They are named after William Horlick’s wife, Arabella. The complex is a beautiful blend of old and new. Located at the south end of the site, the building features 60 unique apartment homes. These models showcase historic features from the original building.

The buildings offer a fresh urban design with architectural features and modern amenities that meet the needs of low and fixed-income families. Units range from studios to 3-bedrooms. Additionally, all units utilize clean energy via rooftop panels. This project has achieved the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold standard.

As of today, 62% of Arabella’s occupancy is filled. This is before the opening and is a major accomplishment for the city and its partners. For more information about The Arabella, click here.

More to Come for the Belle City Complex

Mayor Cory Mason says,” the development is already stunning and will be such a gem as it evolves along this major thoroughfare of Racine.”

Mayor Mason and Josh Jeffers address crowd at ribbon cutting ceremony

Additional parts of the complex are under construction at this time but are expected to be completed by the spring of 2022. There is a total of 166 units expected to begin construction in the fourth quarter of 2021.

“There is a community starting here that will grow and prosper before our eyes at Belle City Square,” says Hector Colon, the President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Dennis Hansen who was in attendance at the ceremony, additionally says that “preservation combined with affordable housing will be an asset to the community.”

The Belle City Square is proof of what can be accomplished when people work together. Mayor Mason highlighted the different individuals who represent this project at the event today. The Belle City Square represents opportunity, growth and development for the City of Racine and its community.

Modern living with historic charm accurately represents Belle City Square.

For more information about the National Register of Historic Places, visit here. Information about housing and developments at Belle City Square can be found on their website here.


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