The Platteville Common Council approved the developer agreement for the new owner of the building at 25 E. Main St. in downtown Platteville Tuedsay night.
The Common Council approved Oct. 28 a $172,000 revolving loan fund loan to the new owner, Wall Properties of Prairie du Chien, to fund interior improvements of the building, which houses The Platteville Journal offices. The loan is subject to the signing of the developer agreement.
Wall Properties is purchasing the building from Silverwood Investment Co. LLC. Wall Properties received an $80,000 loan from the city’s Downtown Redevelopment Authority to finance work on the building’s exterior.
The larger loan passed 6–1 — at-large Ald. Mike Denn was opposed — despite concerns that the property’s new owners would be the first in a potentially long line of downtown property owners wanting city money to finance building improvements.
“If I had a piece of property that was basically falling into the street, I would think that would be my responsibility,” said city resident Kathy Kopp. “What is to preclude other property owners, particularly in downtown, to come forward and say I could use a cheap loan to fix my property for 20 years? As a taxpayer, I’d be upset if you gave me one.”
“This subject may come back to you several times over the next several years,” said Main Street Program director Jack Luedtke. “Banks like to fund new construction; they don’t often like funding renovations. … It doesn’t do any good to improve the façade if the interior is falling apart.”
Deterioration of the mortar on the front of the building allowed water to seep behind the masonry, which has rusted a steel beam that holds up part of the building façade, according to city documents. A scaffold has been in front of the building since the spring, when pieces of the building started falling onto the sidewalk in front.
District 3 Ald. Barb Daus said that “fixing the façade of the building so it’s to the standards of our historic downtown” is a “necessary thing to be fixed on the building.”
“There’s a lot of lending institutions out there; they are professionals,” said Denn. “And if these people can’t get money from them, I have a real problem lending money to them.”
District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian said the council should approve the loan because “we have [Tax Incremental Financing] properties in the industrial park,” in which higher taxes from higher property values are deferred until after property improvements are made. “Not only should there be incentives for the industrial park, but also for downtown.”
Wall Properties co-owner Judy Wall said plans are to renovate the second and third floors to double the number of upstairs apartments — each floor now has a one-bedroom apartment — and add a basement apartment. The existing apartments are in “very bad disrepair,” she said, and are not occupied.
“The first priority we have is to make this building cash-flow,” she said, adding that the new apartments would be “certainly a very high-quality type of improvement for that building.”
The developer agreement originally included a clause that if the work on the property didn’t increase the property’s fair market value to at least $507,980, the estimated total project costs, by Jan. 1, 2016, a penalty payment would be assessed to Wall Properties. The agreement was revised downward to $387,980, removing the façade repairs, legal fees to apply for tax credits, and the value of personal property in the building.