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(Beloit, WI) Shaun Zinck, Beloit Daily News

The City of Beloit now owns a majority of the vacant land in the Gateway Boulevard business district.

City councilors approved the purchase of more than 100 acres of land from an estate located near Interstate 43 and Gateway Boulevard Monday evening.

It will cost about $1.18 million for about 97 acres of developable land, said City Manager Larry Arft. Councilors met for about a half an hour in a closed session to discuss the purchase of the three parcels. Two of the parcels are located just south of the interstate along Millington Road. The third is north of the interstate.

The first parcel is south of the railroad tracks and contains about 56.3 acres of land. The second parcel is just north of the railroad tracks and includes about 51.7 acres. However, about 11 acres of the land is in a floodplain and cannot be used for development.

The third parcel is about 21.2 acres just north of the interstate. It is zoned for “development holding,” and would likely be used to build single-family homes, Arft said.

The land belongs to the Hexter-Long estate, Arft said. The city will purchase the two parcels south of the interstate for about $12,165 per acre. Arft said the estate is donating the 22 acres just north of the interstate to the city.

“A good chunk of that land is on the interstate, and it is highly developable,” Arft said.

The 97 acres is located within the Tax Incremental Finance District number 10 boundaries, Arft said. According to a city memo written by Arft to the city councilors the money used to purchase the land will come out of the TIF district. The owners of the land want to close out the purchase by the end of January, which the city is in a position to do, Arft wrote in the memo.

“We would, however, recommend that the approximately $1.2 million purchase price be wrapped into our bond financing this year,” Arft wrote. “There is adequate cash flow in the TIF District to issue lease revenue bonds for this amount.”

The land owners approached the city about four weeks ago to see if the city was interested in purchasing the land. Arft said there was no reason given as to why they wanted to sell the land now.

“At this price we are interested in purchasing the land,” Arft said, adding 15 years ago the city paid about the same price per acre for land in the business district.

According to the memo, the city paid about $25,000 per acre for the Gateway right-of-way, and about $30,000 per acre for the NorthStar development site.

Councilors reconvened after the closed session and unanimously approved the purchase without comment. Councilor Charles Haynes said after the meeting the price per acre was a significant factor.

“The price was extremely advantageous,” Haynes said. “So that gives us the opportunity to A control our own destiny and B to come out pretty well on the whole issue.”

Haynes added the purchase eliminates a middle man between developers and acquiring land.

“We want to be nimble and flexible. For a lot of commercial projects companies are approaching the city anyway. For us to go in and act as an intermediary to a broker is a long process,” he said. “Having one of these trusts that is inherently a bulky organization out of the way will give us the opportunity to move forward.”

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