RiverWalk Response - What really happened!
Recently, a letter authored by Village Trustee Paul Tadda concerning the Riverwalk apartment building on Main Street was sent to various news outlets including a Milwaukee radio talk show. In his letter he made allegations that the project is in default, it is a bad deal for the taxpayers, and it only ensures greater profits for the developer on the backs of the taxpayer. These are very serious allegations that require a response so that the context and details are clear.
1. To declare something in default requires a careful, thorough review of the entirety of a contract by a legal expert. And even after an initial notice is given that contractual obligations may not have been fulfilled, there are several remedies built into a contract to allow for resolution prior to an ultimate, formal declaration of default. A non-legal expert cannot casually read an agreement, circumvent the legal process, the village manager, the village attorney, and the entire village board, and on one’s own accord formally declare a developer to be in default. Trustee Tadda’s “press release” was reckless and irresponsible.
2. The completion deadline was missed due to unanticipated delays at the beginning of the project and during construction. At a recent Village Board meeting, the developer explained the delays in detail. They encountered significant bedrock complications and dam seepage from the adjacent river that delayed construction by 3 months and then faced ongoing worker shortages, specifically with skilled-trade workers which have also plagued other developers in the SE Wisconsin region.
3. The statements that this is a bad deal for taxpayers and it only ensures greater profits for the developer on your backs are simply false and misleading on various levels. It assumes that the taxpayers will be financially impacted; that they will be financing the project with their taxes. This is completely incorrect. Not a single penny of your taxes or mine will ever be used for any kind of financing. Once the developer completes the project and begins making their annual tax payment, a portion of their own tax money will be returned to them. This has been a widely-used approach across the country for decades and is governed by state statutes. Their taxes returned to them cover the extraordinary costs of site demolition, decontamination, and rehabilitation that are commonly found in blighted areas. The free market does not work in such a way that a potential developer will invest $4 million into cleaning up a blighted site. And this explains why various developers passed on the old, blighted Associated Bank building.
4. In parallel to the release of Trustee Tadda’s letter, the Falls Taxpayer Association, which Trustee Tadda is affiliated with, distributed a political flyer throughout the area calling the Riverwalk property a repeat of the “Radisson Hotel debacle” from 10+ years ago. To equate a missed deadline for the Riverwalk development with outright fraud and deception is one of the most egregiously offensive and reckless statements that could possibly be made and it is a great insult to our community and all that we stand for. These are not Menomonee Falls values.
This development ultimately enriches us in that it removes a blighted eyesore from our historic downtown, it will inject by virtue of new people and new families new life and excitement into the area, it will strengthen our downtown character and sense of community, and it will create a unmeasurable spillover effect for the local businesses. With new stores and shops having recently moved into the area and new developments already in the works, we are experiencing an exciting revitalization. I believe in this community and am thankful for our continued success!