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PUD, lease backed for expo center

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

AHSWAUBENON – A Planned Unit Development overlay district to construct a new expo center received the backing Tuesday, May 28, from the Ashwaubenon village board.

Community Development Director Aaron Schuette said the PUD doesn’t include the Don Hudson Center to the south of Armed Forces Drive to provide flexibility in setbacks, signage, landscaping and uses for the planned expo center/Resch Center Complex.

“The Hudson Center will have its own parcel in the future,” Schuette said.

The Ashwaubenon Plan Commission backed a certified survey map May 20 to combine three parcels and create a lot for the expo/Resch Center and a small lot in the northwest corner of the property for potential future private development, while also detaching the Hudson Center to the south.

Concerns were voiced by the Plan Commission and Site Plan Review Committee, which both favored additional screening and/or landscaping along the northerly property line facing Lombardi Avenue.

Schuette said that will be a point of emphasis with the conditions for approval calling for a detailed landscape plan to be developed.

As planned, the expo center will have more than 125,000 square feet of expo floor space with the front entrance facing Armed Forces Drive and the rear of the building along Lombardi Avenue having garage loading doors with direct access.

The plans currently call for including 208 parking stalls on the north side of the expo hall and 99 stalls on the north side of the Resch Center, but that could change upon a private developer, such as a hotel, being attracted to locate on the site’s northwest corner.

The expo center is scheduled to be completed by January 2021.

Expo center lease

In other action, the board approved a resolution related to the lease of the property, which is being transferred from Brown County to the Ashwaubenon Community Development Authority, and the issuing of bonds for the project.

Village Manager Allison Swanson said the process for financing the expo center will be identical to how the Resch Center construction was funded.

“Currently, the county owns the land that Shopko Hall and the arena – just the parts that remain, anyway – sit on,” Swanson said. “They will transfer that property to the CDA, and the CDA will lease that land back to Brown County.”

Swanson said the bonding that will be issued in the name of the CDA will total $99 million with the county being the obligor for the expo center debt, should there be any shortfall.

The county will take on that debt and lease the space prior to owning the facility once the debt is paid in full.

“The revenues themselves are paid out of room tax dollars,” Swanson said. “There is about $15 million of half-percent sales tax from Brown County that it is collecting at the current time, and there’s another $4.5 million, and that is excess Lambeau Field sales tax that is also contributing to the project.”

According to a memorandum of understanding between Ashwaubenon and the county, the bulk of the funds to pay for the expo center project, which is budgeted at $93 million, will come from room tax dollars.

Along with $4.5 million from the stadium tax refund and another $15 million coming from the new half-percent county sales tax, the village will be working with the county to raise a total of $8 million in naming rights.

Swanson said the CDA has a meeting set for June 6 to award the bond sale, after which cash in hand should be available from the sale around June 20.

“We’re kind of running out cash, so that’s why we need to keep the process (moving),” she said.
Swanson said the bonds, for which the sale is being handled by Baird, are exempt from both federal and state taxes.

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