The city of Watertown's Redevelopment Authority signed a letter of intent and a memorandum of understanding Monday night with property developer T. Wall Enterprises, LLC of Middleton.
The Redevelopment Authority gave the developer until June 30, 2019, to complete its initial application.
"In my mind, we want to send a very strong signal to this company that we want to have a partnership not just on this development, but to future phases that help us in our mission to transforming the downtown and the economic vitality of the downtown," said Robert Marchant, Watertown Redevelopment Authority chairman. "Also, doing it in a way that's in the aesthetic of our downtown. We want things that look right."
Marchant said this is one of many things that need to come before the Redevelopment Authority, but there are many other pieces of the puzzle that need to be put in place before any development would begin.
"There's the financing of it. There's the element of a TIF (public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects) that's going to have be worked through," he said. "Construction timelines. The scope of the development, but I think we should proceed and I am optimistic we found a great partner so let's roll up our sleeves and start addressing some of these things."
Marchant said much of the items that need eventual approval will need to come back to the city's Redevelopment Authority and the Watertown Common Council.
Marchant's comments came on the heels of T. Wall Enterprises, President, Terrence Wall who provided a brief presentation on his company to the Redevelopment Authority.
Wall said while his company may "fly under the radar" it is one of the largest developers of office space in the state. He said T. Wall Enterprises, LLC is a multi-family, office and retail development company that has developed and currently owns hundreds of high-end apartments in Madison, Middleton, Waunakee, Sun Prairie and Green Bay. Wall said all of his company's properties are constructed of the highest quality materials.
He proposed a 75-unit, multi-family development for Watertown's downtown which would have a sky deck overlooking the river.
"Typically, our demographics have units for those between 20-30 years old and those 30-72 years old with a 50-50 split of males and females.
Wall said in his multi-family developments there is little to no vacancies in them.
"We believe in putting heads in beds," he said, which will bring people downtown to live and shop and spend their dollars locally.
He said if his development company constructs one building he would like to see it build another and possibly a third building.
"We definitely want to do more than one building over time," he said. "We will put the extra money in our development through quality construction materials. We're always reinvesting in our properties. We have high quality materials, appliances, cabinets and hardware throughout our properties."
Wall also proposed underground parking complete with security cameras for residents and their vehicles.
"We will attract a good diverse group of people downtown," he said.
He added, it is up to the city to offer programming to help bring additional people downtown with such events as farmer markets, concerts and artist shows.
"You want to keep it flexible," he said. "You want people coming to your downtown, but you need to continually provide them reasons to do so."
He said he wouldn't waste the waterfront property for a hotel where people come and go constantly and do not sit and watch the water. Plus, he said for a larger hotel chain to come in and build in the city they would ask for 120-plus rooms.
"The waterfront should be about events and what your city offers," Wall said.
Redevelopment Authority member Matt Zastrow said he wants to continue seeing Watertown moving ahead.
"I don't think we should drop the hotel," Zastrow said. "I just want to help make Watertown a better place to live for our residents."
The next Redevelopment Authority meeting is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 9.