Illinois-based Marquette Distributors LLC sold the commercial building on 2.6 acres to the city in early January.
The 615 Marquette St. property includes a four-story cement building the Factory of Fear had been in and a brick warehouse. The cement building will be sold to Rodney Blackwell, a developer looking to build a housing and commercial project called Machinery Row. The project is a multi-phase retail and apartment development project along the Root River in the 900 block of Water Street.
More than 100 jobs are expected to be created in the first phase of the project and more than 500 jobs are anticipated for the project, according to a press release by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The city plans to sell the brick building to a developer that might be interested in making it into apartments, said city administrator Tom Friedel.
“We have a strong need for housing downtown, especially for market-rate apartments,” Friedel said. “We’ve already had some calls on it…. We see a lot of potential there because the building is very similar to the one River Bend Lofts is in.”
The reason the city got involved with the purchase in the first place was because Rick Olson, who owns Marquette Distributors LLC, wanted to sell off all of the property he owned in the area, including the vacant land. But Blackwell wasn’t interested in buying both parcels.
The vacant parcel on the corner won’t be able to be used for anything since there is an extensive system of pipes underneath it, Friedel said.
“It has big sewer pipes underneath it and lots of easements,” he said.
In 2014, the common council approved the first phase, which calls for the city to use $1.8 million in intergovernmental revenue-sharing funds to buy three parcels of land; granting a $4.5 million bridge loan from the redevelopment authority to Financial District Properties; and the city borrowing $7 million to pay for infrastructure improvements. The development includes 12 properties along 900 Water St.
The $4.5 million loan dollars will come from the redevelopment authority. Once Blackwell secures financing from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is expected to pay back the $4.5 million to the redevelopment authority.