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RACS endorses two expansions

Superior's Redevelopment Authority threw its support behind two projects that expand Superior businesses. The authority Wednesday approved development agreements with Evergreen Square of Barker's Island LLC, the limited liability company held by ...

Superior's Redevelopment Authority threw its support behind two projects that expand Superior businesses.

The authority Wednesday approved development agreements with Evergreen Square of Barker's Island LLC, the limited liability company held by Oliver Cos., and Cupcake Holdings LLC, more commonly known as Total Tool Supply Inc.

"It certainly is a pleasure to come to a meeting like this when you've got two great projects expanding existing businesses in the city," said Kevin Norbie, authority member and council vice president. "It's wonderful that you see this kind of stuff going on."

Total Tool Supply Inc. plans a 4,000-square-foot expansion of its facility at North Fifth Street and Ogden Avenue.

In order to make that project a reality, the company is buying the structure it has leased for more than a decade and the leased city-owned land where it was constructed.

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Leasing city property to encourage economic development is a mechanism the city has used for many years, said Jason Serck, port and planning director.

"We've been operating out of this location since 1994, and the project started because we're looking to put an addition on the building," said Scott Richardson, chief financial officer for Total Tool Supply.

He said the project is an important one for the company.

"It will (almost) double the size of the structure and double the number of employees over the next couple of years," Richardson said. "There's a lot of projects going on in Northern Wisconsin and up along the North Shore."

The company supplies power and hand tools, lifting products, rentals, light equipment and tool and equipment repairs for construction and industry. In addition to its facility at 426 Odgen Ave., it has branches in Appleton, Wausau, Hibbing, St. Paul, Des Moines, Iowa, and Lincoln and Omaha, Neb.

"Over the years, I worked for a construction company that dealt with Total Tool; they've been able to deal with safety equipment that is needed in our industry," said Dan Olson, a member of the Northern Wisconsin Building Trades Council who spoke in favor of the expansion project. "It's a small business that has always been able to help us out."

Olson also testified in favor of the proposed expansion of Barker's Island Inn, owned by Oliver Cos. through its Wisconsin limited liability company.

Oliver Cos. is planning a $15 million expansion of the existing hotel and conference center on Barker's Island. Plans include building a time-share tower that features condominiums designed to create individual sleeping rooms that can serve as additional hotel rooms when owners aren't using them. About 40 units -- most of which could accommodate up to three sleeping rooms -- will be newly constructed near the waterfront. Plans also include tripling the size of the conference center, expanding the restaurant and bar, remodeling the hotel, expanding parking and making improvements to the remaining tennis court on the island. Two of the three courts are slated to be removed to accommodate the expansion.

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Under the Redevelopment Authority agreement, the city will sell the company additional land for more than $503,000 to give Oliver Cos. space for the expansion. The city will also create a tax increment finance district of up to $3 million to help pay for the expansion. Taxes on the enhanced value of the hotel, time-share tower and conference center repays the city bonding at a rate of about $254,340 during the next 20 years.

"We're very hopeful that this project will move forward for the Barker's Island expansion project, not only for the short-term construction project that it will create for the members who work in Northern Wisconsin, but for the long-term economic benefit that I think it will bring to the area," said Norm Vorhees, president of the Northern Wisconsin Building Trades Council. "We hope that this project will move forward and Oliver Cos. will be able to get going on that expansion project as soon as possible."

Olson said the jobs, conventions and impact of the construction project would all have a positive impact on the city's economy.

If the council approves a special use permit, the tax increment financing, land sale and development agreement Nov. 6, company principal Seth Oliver said ground could be broken for the expansion project later in the month.

"The headline on this one is 'slam dunk,'" said authority member Diane McGinnis, who favored both expansion projects.

Shelley Nelson is available at snelson@superiortelegram . com or (715) 395-5022.

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