S.C. Swiderski moves forward with Fox Point property development
City of Merrill will pay initial incentives, but reap long-term rewards
TINA L. SCOTT
On Tuesday morning, May 25, S.C. Swiderski, the City of Merrill, and the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction of a new apartment community in Merrill to be named SCS Fox Point, in recognition of the property’s former use as the Fox Point Sportswear building
Dave Johnson, City Administrator for the City of Merrill, is pleased to be working with S.C. Swiderski LLC of Mosinee and released an earlier press release that said, “The City has issued a building permit to S.C. Swiderski for a project with a build value of $6.691 million.”
“This development will offer market rate apartments with close proximity to the High School, Washington Elementary School, St. Francis Catholic School, Prairie Trails Park, and Church Mutual Insurance … We look forward to the completion of this project and thank S.C. Swiderski for choosing Merrill for a third housing project,” he said.
The SCS Fox Point complex
This complex will be the third apartment community built, owned, and professionally managed by S.C. Swiderski. located within the city of Merrill. SCS Fox Point will be located at 1901 E. 14th Street/also known as Hwy. G, across the street from the Merrill High School.
Located on a 5.43-acre lot, S.C. Swiderski Construction designed the complex to be multigenerational, including 56 total apartments in two different building styles with six different floor plans, to provide multiple options for renters.
There will be 2 eight-unit Bedford buildings featuring one-level living, with 12 two-bedroom and 4 three-bedroom apartments, ranging from 1,050 to 1,250 square feet each, and each including two-car attached garages.
There will also be two Fulton buildings that feature 24 one-bedroom and 16 three-bedroom apartments, each with a deck or patio and a one-stall detached garage. Lower and upper level units will be available, and floor plans will be for 700 to 1,175 square foot apartments.
“What is most exciting about this project,” Johnson said, “is the availability of three-bedroom apartments.” Merrill doesn’t currently have many options for apartments that size.
All of the apartments at SCS Fox Point will have private entrances and in-unit laundry.
“The apartment homes will be market rate,” S.C. Swiderski reiterated in a May 18 press release, and “rent rates include parking, heat, water, sewer, Wi-Fi, cable, trash, lawn care, and snow removal.”
S.C. Swiderski is expanding across the state
“We are excited to be building again in Merrill. Our apartments in Merrill have strong occupancy, and we believe adding these new building types will offer additional options for quality housing needed in the area,” explained Jacqui McElroy, Director of Business Development at S.C. Swiderski. “We appreciate the support of the City of Merrill in this important project.”
S.C. Swiderski has numerous multi-family locations under construction, including projects in Marshfield, Waupaca, Weston, Oshkosh, Shawano, Hortonville, and Stanley, the company said in their press release.
The SCS Fox Point project will be completed in phases. Site engineering and approvals have already been completed, and now the construction of the apartment buildings and office building is ready to begin. One of the 20-unit Fulton buildings is scheduled to be completed before year end 2021, with the office building scheduled for completion in January, and the second 20-unit Fulton building scheduled to be completed in February. The two 8-unit Bedford buildings will quickly follow, with the first scheduled for completion next March and the second in April. That means in less than a year’s time, Merrill’s apartment housing options will have increased tremendously, with an added inventory of 56 units.
The City of Merrill actively sought developers and granted incentives; how it works
The City of Merrill, and in particular, City Administrator Dave Johnson on behalf of the City, actively sought out developers and requests for proposals, in an effort to increase and expand housing options available in Merrill and to develop vacant property so that it will once again serve as a profitable, income-producing and tax-generating entity for the greater good of the community.
So what does the agreement between the City and S.C. Swiderski entail? Johnson outlined the plan. First, the City agreed to sell the former Fox Point property to the developer for $1 by January 1, 2021. In exchange, S.C. Swiderski committed to constructing four multi-family apartment buildings on the property.
To induce and convince S.C. Swiderski to build such a development, and to make this investment in the City of Merrill, the City agreed to provide certain incentives, or cash payments, to S.C. Swiderski, essentially totaling $250,000 by the time the project is completed. These payments are spaced out over the project to help cover some of the project costs, with a payment of $50,000 when construction starts on the first apartment building, and then payments of $50,000 each, upon the completion (as signified by acquiring a State Occupancy Permit) of each of the four apartment buildings.
In return, S.C. Swiderski commits to spending at least $4,000,000 to build the proposed SCS Fox Point complex. Once the buildings are all completed, based on the value of the developed property, the City of Merrill will then begin receiving $125,000 per year (or more) in incremental taxes from the development, starting with the first year after completion.
Deciphering the details
City TID and TIF districts and incentive payments and development jargon or lingo can be difficult to follow. That’s the kind of language you’d hear in discussions about this in Common Council and development meetings. But in a nutshell, this is about the City making an investment in more housing for City residents, which is needed to bring more workers to the area to fill current job openings and to grow the economy. And it’s about setting the City up to receive a substantial return on their investment.
“This means that the City’s $250,000 incentive will be recovered in just two years,” Johnson explained. [$250,000 investment divided by $125,000 per year in taxes received back equals two years to break even. Then, in each year that follows, the City will receive $125,000 in additional tax revenue because the property is developed and income producing rather than sitting vacant.]
The long-term rewards should be obvious: more Merrill apartment housing and $125,000 in annual tax revenue.
“Other proposals received with this one and an earlier Request for Proposal asked for a significantly larger project incentive from the City,” Johnson said.
All-in-all, it sounds like a lot of money up front, but the City and S.C. Swiderski are working on a win-win proposal for each entity and for residents of Merrill looking for good quality apartment housing.
S.C. Swiderski, LLC is a real estate, construction, and property management company specializing in residential projects. The Real Estate Division manages the company’s real estate portfolio, handling acquisitions, sales, project design, planning, and development, as well as operating a full-service real estate brokerage. The Construction Division oversees building design, project budgets and scheduling, contract procurement, project management, and construction management. The Property Management Division provides professional leasing, management, grounds keeping, and maintenance for the real estate portfolio.