City to Use Eminent Domain?
This meeting had a couple of topics of particular interest, the use of eminent domain, and TIF policy.
The first file of interest involved the possibility of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee utilizing eminent domain to acquire two properties and convey them to Pete’s Marketplace, Inc. which would expand its facilities and add between 30 and 40 new employees. Alderman Michael Murphy expressed his concern over the City of Milwaukee taking such an action saying “I’m very reluctant to support the use of eminent domain.” Despite offers of $275,000 for the vacant lots, at 1443 and 1445-47 S. Muskego Ave., the properties were recently appraised at approximately $15,000, because the owners, the Cetina family, had over the time they’d owned the property been required to demolish the existing buildings on the site due to their conditions. The Cetina family had attempted to construct a new building for the purpose of opening a restaurant or nightclub, but neighborhood opposition stopped them from obtaining a liquor license. This file was approved and will now go before the full Common Council.
During this discussion Alderman Bob Bauman seemed to argue that city needs to utilize TIF more often and with more projects during this downturn when he asked “what precisely are we doing to prime the pump?” He brought up New Land Enterprises’ proposed building at N. Van Buren St. and E. Kilbourn Ave. and expressed his concern over the Department of City Development not pushing projects that request TIF funds. Specifically, he said we have “put a big bucket of cold water on the project behind closed doors,” and added that “if you don’t bring the project forward we can’t have the debate. Jim Scherer, of DCD , responded that “my concern with it, was that it had no equity in it at all.” Alderman Murphy agreed expressing that “if nobody has any skin in the game there is no reason to have them as a partner.”