July 4, 2008

West Allis Housing Planned: Firm Would Clean Up Former Landfill Site

By Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Jul. 4--A Minneapolis company that converts environmentally contaminated properties into new offices, industrial buildings and other developments, is pursuing plans to build housing on a West Allis landfill site.

Real Estate Recycling Inc. is creating plans for the 20-acre site south of W. Morgan Ave. and west of S. 116th St., said Jeff Hall, company president. The site is a small portion of the city of West Allis that is completely surrounded by the city of Greenfield.

The company hasn't yet determined the number of units for the site, which would likely include a mix of detached single-family homes and townhouses, he said. The site would not have any rental properties, Hall said Thursday.

Real Estate Recycling will meet with nearby residents to get their opinions before drafting the plans, Hall said. Close to the Root River Parkway, the site is a good location for homes, he said.

Real Estate Recycling has been working on the site for four years, Hall said. The company received a state Department of Natural Resources grant to help finance its investigation of the property's environmental conditions.

That assessment is more than halfway complete, Hall said. The company will likely complete a detailed development plan, including plans to seek a cleanup grant from the state Department of Commerce, within a year.

"We want to be ready when the (housing) market turns around," Hall said.

The property is used as a composting site by Greenfield and West Allis, and once was used as a landfill by the now-defunct Allis-Chalmers Corp., Hall said. The site was later sold to a company that apparently has closed.

Although the land is in foreclosure because of its delinquent property tax bills, Milwaukee County has not taken steps to acquire the property because of the environmental contamination, Hall said. If Real Estate Recycling proceeds on the development, it would buy the land after county and local officials do a tax foreclosure action, he said.

Real Estate Recycling has done several projects involving cleanups of polluted sites.

In Milwaukee, those projects include the Stadium Business Park, which has four light industrial buildings totaling around 200,000 square feet that Real Estate Recycling developed on the site of the former Ampco Metal Inc. foundry site, west of S. 38th St. between W. Mitchell and W. Burnham streets.

Real Estate Recycling just completed the last building at Stadium Business Park and has landed two tenants to fill the space. They are a federal government agency, which Hall declined to name because of security reasons, and manufacturer Air Logic Power Systems Inc. Both tenants moved to Stadium Business Park from nearby locations, he said.

The business park, which has about 300 jobs, is financed in part by $4.6 million in city funds, according to the Department of City Development. That amount is being repaid over 17 years through the business park's property taxes. Once the amount is repaid, by 2021, the property taxes flow to the city and other local governments.


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