The reshaping of downtown Watertown took a big step forward this week.
An 87-unit, multifamily housing development cleared two hurdles Monday afternoon when the city’s site review committee and plan commission each gave their approval for the project, which now is headed to a public hearing Nov. 2.
“The redevelopment authority, our city team, and the developer have been very purposeful with briefing the appropriate boards, committees, and the full council so that people are aware of the progress, comfortable with the project and have an opportunity to provide input,” Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland said. “The development agreement process gave a lot of opportunity for that, and much of what is being discussed today was conceptually proposed at that stage, so I am optimistic that the council will maintain their comfortability and favor with the project.”
Plan Commission members heard a brief presentation Monday by Nick Patterson, a development analyst with T. Wall Enterprises. Patterson is also the project manager for the housing development, which will sit across from the Watertown Public Library and south of the Town Square.
Patterson said the project will assist in bringing activity downtown as well as revitalizing the downtown area. He said the project will help to create a sense of community and Main Street style of living where its residents will shop, dine and relax downtown.
Plan commission member Tony Arnett agreed.
“When you get people living downtown then it works,” Arnett said. “It’s about people living downtown and shopping and eating downtown, but first you need the people living downtown to make it work.”
Watertown Alderman James Romlein, who also sits on the city’s plan commission, said this development is a “big step up” for downtown.
In August, the city’s finance committee and T. Wall Enterprises entered into an agreement for the development.
The development calls for high level 87-units with a mix of studio to two-bedroom apartments with high-end finishes such as granite, stainless steel appliances and additional amenities for its tenants. There will also be a pool in the courtyard area.
The project construction will be around $18 million to $19 million.
The developer’s agreement requires a minimum value of $8.5 million so the tax base will benefit from development. In the agreement, the city provides the land and a $3.3 million pay-go incentive, which means each year Main Street Watertown LLC. will pay its taxes, and then the city (for a period of time) reimburses a portion of those taxes, which is approximately 77%.
In the agreement, Main Street Watertown LLC. will also construct the Riverwalk along the property, which is 111 S. Water St., which is the parcel to the south of the Town Square site.
With the Town Square project, this development, the redesign of the plaza on east side of the river, and the existing housing developments, the Riverwalk will be a complete loop south of the bridge.
Groundbreaking is expected to begin in March followed by a year of construction.