Fish Creek TIF Not Tied to Affordable Housing

Gibraltar hosting informational presentation Wednesday, May 4, 6 pm

A new tax district billed as a boost for affordable-housing development in Fish Creek does not include any mechanisms to ensure that the homes will be sold at prices that are attainable for local workers. 

The legislature approved Gibraltar’s request to establish a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) last month for the area above the bluff near the Settlement Shops along Highway 42. The district’s creation was spurred by a proposal by Marise Redmann to build homes on the property, which was previously offered to the town for $2.1 million. Town residents voted against that purchase in October 2019. 

Redmann now plans to build 100 residential units in two- and four-unit buildings, plus 15 individual homesites on the property. She said she wants to build homes that are affordable for the local workforce, and the extension of sewer to the property goes a long way toward lowering construction costs. Gibraltar Town Administrator Travis Thyssen said he hopes the work keeps costs in the “low $200,000 range.”

But the establishment of the TIF does not include a mechanism to ensure the development of affordable housing or keep the homes in the affordable price range when they’re resold. 

“They’ll [the developer] have the full authority to develop those areas as they want,” Thyssen said, “so I guess it’s a leap of faith by the town. Anything that would keep them in that price range, we’d want to explore.”

Thyssen said Redmann informed the town the homes would not be allowed to be used as short-term rentals. 

The town will host a presentation Wednesday, May 4, 6 pm, to give residents information about how a TIF operates. A committee to manage the TIF will be formed with members appointed by the town, Gibraltar School, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and County of Door. 

To reach the property, the town will need to run the sewer line under the Fish Creek watershed, then into and up the bluff by boring into the bluff. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approved permits for the work in 2008 when the town initially investigated the expansion, but those permits have expired. Thyssen said the town hopes they will be reapproved. 

He said the latest cost estimate for the project is $3.5 million, plus $500,000 to improve a road to the project. By creating the TIF, the town hopes to recoup the cost of the extended sewer line by capturing the increased property taxes collected within the district. 

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