Warehouse District

Mayor Schmitt signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) seven years ago with Greg Larsen and On Broadway Inc. (OBI). The MOU outlines responsibilities for each party and explains, “…in order to obtain the financing for the purchase of the project site [Larsen Green], OBI has requested that the City guarantee a portion of the OBI loan.” The MOU goes on to describe further specifications for a project site titled, “Larsen Redevelopment – An Urban Mixed-Use Vision.” Redevelopment of this site under OBI’s watch was expected to return an assessed value of $105 million. The plans shared today honor the MOU and will further our recent downtown successes.

2007 Memorandum of Understanding for the On Broadway Purchase of Bird’s Eye Property PDF

As a result of the signed MOU and recently approved AuthentiCity Plan, City Leaders have stepped forward with three alternative plans (see images below) consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and the original intent of the Planned Unit Development (PUD). The plans are flexible; project components are interchangeable and will be adjusted to create market demand and build on previous downtown redevelopment projects. All three options may be pieced together depending on market demand to create a successful mixed-use development. Any combination of the three plans will conservatively result in $30 million of assessed value.

Warehouse District Concepts PDF


Larsen Green Concepts - Boards.indd

Option A reflects the Authenticity Plan with focus on residential uses.


Larsen Green Concepts - Boards.indd
Option B outlines an office/retail focus built on recent demand to the south.

 

Larsen Green Concepts - Boards.indd
Option C shows an entertainment venue featuring a baseball stadium/outdoor entertainment area and hotel.

 

mixed-use-comparison-board

 

June 12, 2014 Press Conference

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Nothing has happened on this property for ten years, why should we expect anything different now?

We can comfortably anticipate something different because that is exactly what has happened in the Downtown over the past five years.   Even through the downturned economy, the City has a proven track record of Downtown investment.   The over $150 million of private investment in Downtown Green Bay since 2011 has built a momentum that can be expected to continue.   Much of that momentum has accumulated over the past 18 months and this property has not been on the market at that time, due to Walmart’s option to purchase the site.  The Larsen Green property provides a substantial opportunity to continue the current momentum of Downtown Green Bay and leverage success of other nearby development projects.  On a more micro-scale, just look at the redevelopment that is occurring with the Titletown Expansion project.

Why is the Downtown even important?

Downtown property is valuable, and it’s limited.  Downtown properties are uniquely positioned to accommodate higher density levels.  Greater density yields greater assessed value, which yields greater revenue to the City.  Therefore, downtown properties, especially the ones located near the water, are of significant importance.   A successful mixed-use downtown provides an environment that is preferred by some residents and businesses.  Providing choice is critical to creating a sustainable city where residents can work, live, and play; their children will also want to work, live and play as they grow and start families of their own.

We live in a changing world.   Demographic trends show that the two largest population segments, the millenials and the baby boomers, overwhelmingly want to live in a more urban and walkable environment.   That urban environment does not need to be in a large city like New York or Chicago.   Midsize cities all across the country are striving to enhance their Downtowns in order to attract young talent and keep long time residents.   There are many who may not want to live in a Downtown but want to be near the amenities and events that a dynamic, safe, urban environment can offer.

Like any city, Green Bay is a sum of its parts.   The success of the downtown feeds into the success of the commercial areas, industrial parks and neighborhoods and vice versa.

How long would this take?  What if it didn’t work?

Based on the current interest in Downtown Green Bay, we believe that it would take approximately three years to engage with a Master Developer and begin the first phase.  The alternates are more complicated than a single story building with surface parking, and as such will require additional time to complete.  That said, the diverse uses and building types also provide a safety net.  If one part of the alternate plans struggles, the rest of the development can continue.

We believe that, in order to be responsible to the future of the City of Green Bay, we need to do the right thing, and not the quick thing.

 Aren’t these ideas just “pie in the sky” thinking?

None of the alternatives shown are without community validation.  Every concept shown reflects discussions with related stakeholders and ideas that have been brought to the city’s attention from outside sources.

The demand for retail, office, and residential uses in particular has been analyzed through various market studies over the last 2 years as well as through the Downtown AuthentiCity Plan.

What specific tenants are proposed for the office, retail, and restaurant spaces?

The city does not control the property and Walmart has had a purchase option on the site, keeping other developers from negotiating on the site. It would not be prudent to offer specific tenants or even a specific developer because the City does not have control of the property and Walmart has had a purchase option on the property for over a year.

That said, the land uses shown on the alternate plans were not selected arbitrarily.   They were selected based on current trends in the Downtown area as well as informal and anecdotal discussions that have occurred over the past six months.

It is also critically important, at this stage in the planning process, to be flexible to the market.  None of these alternatives are set in stone.  The actual uses and site layouts must be responsive to market conditions within guiding principles of appropriate scale, density, walkability, urban vitality, and the like.

Do the power lines negatively impact the mixed-use alternatives?

The “Residential Focus” alternative from the Downtown AuthentiCity Plan accounts for the power lines in their current location.  Screening and building placement could be used to “build around” the lines without moving them.

The “Office and Retail Focus” alternative requires moving one or more pole locations.

As shown, the “Sports and Entertainment Focus” alternative would require pole relocation but could also be redesigned, with minimal programmatic impact, to accommodate the power lines in their existing location.

What has Walmart proposed to build?

January 2014 Proposal (Comprehensive Plan Amendment request)

o   154,000 sq ft single-story store

o   5,400 sq ft outlot with no parking

o   Façade changes that do not meet minimum zoning/design requirements

May 2014 Proposal (PUD Amendment request)

o   154,000 sq ft single-story store

o   5,400 sq ft outlot with no parking

o   Façade changes that do not meet minimum zoning/design requirements

o   “Air-rights” over parking field with no evidence to support that they are even buildable

What is the estimated assessed value of what Walmart has proposed to build?

  • $10,000,000 +/- including improvements and land  (source: City of Green Bay Assessor)
  • That’s $15 per square foot of parcel area
  • Typical tax base density for the Broadway District is $30 to 40 per square foot of parcel area – more than twice what is proposed.
  • Tax base densities in the downtown are capable of achieving (and already do achieve) rates of $200 to 300 per square foot of parcel area – up to 20 times what is proposed.

Will the City have to provide incentive for these alternate plans like they do for many other Downtown projects?

The City considers every investment carefully and development incentives are no different.  Our financial analysis of these alternatives includes incentives that, when balanced out with the assessed value of the project, still yields a successful return in the long term.

What is the cost of environmental clean-up on the site?

  • This is unknown – further analysis would be needed to confirm such costs.
  • Walmart’s environmental consultant estimates the cost of cleanup and importing more structurally supportive soil at $1.1 to 1.4 million.
  • Walmart has cited other site preparation costs that are specific to their development needs and not environmental cleanup that, in sum with the estimated environmental costs, total $5.9 to 6.9 million.

o   These costs include: grading, lighting, landscaping, parking lot paving and striping, signage, traffic signals, demolition of the existing buildings, and the like.

o   These are elective costs that Walmart has chosen to make a part of their site design.

What grants are available to assist with environmental clean-up on the site?

  • WEDC Idle Sites Program: The Idle Industrial Site Redevelopment Program offers grants of up to $1,000,000.
  • WDNR Ready For Reuse Grant/Loan Program: Brownfield grants of up to $200,000, or zero-interest loans of more than $250,000
  • Note: In the past 18 months, city staff has been successful in obtaining $1.6 million of brownfield grants from these programs for various projects (e.g. T-Wall, Dermond, University Avenue Corridor Plan, Citywide Site Assessment program).

Wouldn’t the air rights and OBI outlot proposed by Walmart provide additional Downtown density?

The OBI outlot is shown at approximately 5,400 square feet.  Per Walmart representatives, this is likely to be a restaurant.   The construction of the outlot would result in additional tax revenue to the city, but not at the capacity that could be realized for a downtown property.  The air rights also offer a development opportunity, but include challenges like shared parking and the relocation of the power line poles.   The city alternate plans also consider relocation of the power line poles, but that cost would be absorbed across the entire property and development proforma rather than by one user.

What is the importance of the city’s Comprehensive Plan?

  • Wisconsin Statutes [Ch. 66.1001(3)(k)] require that zoning ordinances adopted or amended by a city must be consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.
  • The proposed Walmart development cannot comply with the existing zoning requirements (the Planned Unit Development for Larsen Green), so this zoning ordinance would be amended.
  • The city’s comprehensive plan indicates that this area is designated for “Downtown” land uses that have certain characteristics.

o   Recognition of the unique opportunity and environment that exist in the downtown

o   High density of development

o   Mixed-use buildings

o   Richly detailed building architecture

o   Many windows and doors on the first floor

o   Parking in structures or small, highly landscaped surface lots

o   Avoidance of buildings and uses that will lead to functional and economic obsolescence

o   Inappropriateness of big-box retail in the Broadway District

  • The Plan Commission and Common Council both adopted the “Downtown” designation, affirming these desired characteristics of development on this site.

We need groceries and reasonably priced general merchandise downtown.  Can a Walmart store fit in with the Broadway District?

Yes, there are many examples of smaller, urban format Walmart stores across the nation. There are several opportunities for Walmart to adjust its approach and prototype to this site in order to fit in with the downtown and Broadway environment.

o   Reduce the size of the store

o   Structure the parking in order to reduce land consumption

o   Purchase only a portion of the site or create shared parking management

o   Incorporate all or a portion of the existing buildings

o   Build a multi-story building

o   Be a part of a mixed-use development

And if not, there is a Commercial designated site along Velp Avenue just one mile away.

What were the anticipated amount and value of development in the Larsen Green master plan?

  • This was an aggressive vision including 280,000 sq ft of renovated space in existing buildings and another 430,000 sq ft of additional development – a total of 710,000 sq ft
  • The master plan states that $60 to 120 million in property value would be created
  • The MOU signed by the city and OBI refers to a goal of $105 million on this basis

What are the anticipated amount and value of development for this area in the AuthentiCity plan?

  • This plan softened the vision of the Larsen Green master plan, but still includes 280,000 sq ft of renovated space in existing buildings and another 300,000 sq ft of additional development – a total of 580,000 sq ft
  • The AuthentiCity plan anticipates roughly $40 to 60 million in property value

What have community members told us already about their desires for this site?

  • At the August 29, 2013 public workshop for the downtown plan, 43 unsolicited public comments cards were received stating opposition to the Walmart proposal.  Two public comment cards stated support for the proposal.
  • At the January 27, 2014 public hearing, 40 people spoke in favor of the “Downtown” designation, and 6 people spoke in favor of the “Commercial” designation.
  • At the February 27, 2014 public hearing, 26 people spoke in favor of the “Downtown” designation, and 9 people spoke in favor of the “Commercial” designation.
  • At the June 10, 2014 Plan Commission meeting, 55 registered in opposition to the Walmart zoning request, and 5 people registered in favor of the zoning request.