Whitewater, WI – On Tuesday, March 1, 2015, the Whitewater Common Council gathered at 6:30 p.m. in the Whitewater Municipal Building. City Manager Cameron Clapper opened discussion about the possibility of a developer coming to build a new structure that will house a new library, hotel and other businesses.
United Development Solutions, LLC is currently overseeing a similar operation in Platteville, WI. The development will be completed in March 2017 and hold a private hotel, public library and a non-profit clinic. United Development Solution s has proposed a very similar project for Whitewater’s Irvin L. Young Public Library. The company plans to relocate the current library to Main Street, closer to the University.
Councilwoman Stephanie Goettel urged the council to think about the realism of the idea, “There is not a lot vacant land along Main Street, so before moving forward, the board must figure out if this could be a real concept.” While Goettl assured the council and the library she has open mind to the idea of a new library for Whitewater, she made it known that this will take extensive planning.Members from the library board of directors were at the meeting to answer any questions. The library is looking to expand to a 26-thousand square foot building. The projected development will include a 25-thousand square foot building, which the library is on board with.
A concern to the library board and the common council is budgeting. This is an extensive project. If the library doesn’t move locations, the current library will need to be demolished and re-worked to accommodate the new concept; however, if the library moves, Whitewater will have a vacant building. The most recent estimate for the new library is $10-million. This comes at a reduced cost to the City.
For the first 7 years, the developer would own the library in order to reap the tax benefit from the new market tax credit, which provides developers tax incentives for investing to revitalize parts of low-income cities.
The idea is that after the 7 years, the library would be handed over to the City. The City would then own the library at a significantly lower cost than it would take to build a new one. This is not something that can be written into the contract, which caused common council members to hesitate.
Overall, the common council agreed to hear further ideas from the developer and the library board regarding the possibility of the new library. City Manager Cameron Clapper commented on the proposal saying that a new hotel has been in interest of the City for some time. He urged the council to realize that it could actually be a reality, and that a new library and hotel would not happen any other way in the foreseeable future.
If all moves smoothly, United Development Solutions LLC will have a plan drawn up within the next 18 months.
Another part of the night’s meeting was the discussion of a high-strength waste receiving system being built and operated in Whitewater. The benefit to installing this tank is that the City can use it to generate methane gas. Whitewater currently spends $52,000 annually on heating the existing tank and other utility buildings. The proposed tank could reduce costs.
The company looking to build the system, Baker Tilly, was not present for discussion. The council invites them to attend next meeting to get final details on the proposal. The current proposal states that the system would be handed over to the City once completed and be operated by the City. The council had mixed opinions about the proposal all together, but voted in favor of hearing the full proposal.
Other topics covered at the meeting:
- Center Street and George Street construction project to cost 2.7-million over a 2-year loan period
- Clay Street construction to cost 3-million with 1.2-million coming from grants
- Changes to allow residential lots to have up to 30-percent of the lot to be impervious, which is any surface that cannot absorb water
- April 19 Common Council meeting to be held on UW-Whitewater’s campus; more information to come on specific location