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Ground broken for Platteville Library Block
Construction to begin next month
Library Block Lee-Jones
Platteville Public Library Director Jessie Lee-Lones reads from the Sally Smith book Construction during the Library Block groundbreaking Friday afternoon.

Though actual construction won’t start until next month, groundbreaking for the Platteville Library Block project was held in front of the current Platteville Public Library, the future Neighborhood Health Partners clinic, Friday afternoon.

The ceremony brought out city officials, Platteville’s two state legislators, state officials whose agencies’ financial contributions were key to the project, and supporters of the library. 

Common Council president Eileen Nickels introduced the speakers inside the library by calling it a “public–private partnership, and we have a lot of partners.”

Developer Troy Hoekstra adapted Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas to the theme of the day, concluding with “In this place we will teach children how to read, teach them wrong from right. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Library director Jessie Lee-Jones didn’t write a poem, but did read from a children’s book, Sally Smith’s Construction, complete with pictures.

“A modern library says a great deal about what a community values,” said Lee-Jones. “A library adds tremendously to quality of life.”

Platteville Library Board member Tim called the event “the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the history of the Platteville Public Library. … We’re going to get a library that everybody agrees is essential for Platteville … a shining example of what a 21st-century library should be.”

Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority chief operating officer Brian Schimming thanked WHEDA business development director Farsheed Maltes, calling him “really integral” in getting the New Market Tax Credits approved to fund the project.

“Isn’t this a terrific step for downtown Platteville?” said Schimming. “We hear all the time how people want public–private partnerships … private expertise and capital and public resources. … When this project is done, WHEDA and you all are going to be so proud of this.”

Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program executive director Wally Orzechowski, whose organization owns the clinic, said the New Market Tax Credits “made the difference in doing it or not.”

Orzechowski said the clinic is looking at adding services in such areas as behavioral health once it moves into the renovated library building.

“A lot of community needs are going to be met by this one investment,” said state Sen. Howard Marklein (R–Spring Green), a member of the WHEDA board. “It sure is nice when we get the benefit of these New Market Tax Credits back home.”

“It’s nice that people in Madison recognize that Southwest Wisconsin is part of Wisconsin too,” said State Rep. Travis Tranel (R–Cuba City).

The Library Block redevelopment project originally included, besides the new library, student housing and retail. Housing was removed from the project, and the original hotel concept was replaced with the 72-room Holiday Inn Express that will be part of the project.

Instead of paying $1 per year for the library, as was originally touted earlier this year, the city will be paying Miners Development, LLC $1.5 million over seven years in a lease, paid for by general tax revenue or potential Tax Incremental Financing district revenue. Market-rate leases are required under federal New Market Tax Credits.

In return, the city is getting guaranteed tax increments, of $100,000 in 2017 and $155,000 per year from 2018 to 2024, and $125,000 per year from 2025 to 2036. The total is $2.685 million, with $1.03 million of that during the expected seven-year library lease, or $1.185 million in case of an eight-year lease.

The city’s Library Block Frequently Asked Questions states that the city will receive $3 million in return over 20 years from the $2 million loan from Tax Incremental Financing District 7. Besides the guaranteed increment of $2.685 million, the remaining $315,000 is expected to come from TIF revenue, either from TIF 7 or one of the city’s two donor TIF districts.

Construction work won’t begin until the buildings — including the Block, Scott & Heenan law offices, the former Cunningham Hospital — have asbestos and other materials removed, and until the health clinic moves to its temporary location in the former Platteville Police Department space in the Municipal Building.