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UnitedHealth could be on the move to De Pere

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – UnitedHealth Group may be on the move from its present site in Howard to the Southbridge Business Park in De Pere.

More than 1,000 employees would be transferred to the new location, which is near Foth.

Bob Weyers of the development group Commercial Horizons told De Pere’s Finance and Personnel Committee his client would like to build a 174,000-square-foot corporate office building in the area, at the cost of about $35 million.

Mayor Mike Walsh hinted at the revelation earlier in the day at the annual State of De Pere event, but would not reveal the identity of the company involved, only saying the major project would bring 1,000 employees to De Pere and the name would be revealed at that night’s Finance and Personnel Committee meeting, when the developer would speak.

The four-story UnitedHealth Group building would have more than 900 parking stalls and sit on an 18-acre site.

Commercial Horizons owns 35 acres in the Southbridge Business Park area, but the UnitedHealth project would involve acquiring just under four acres of city-owned land for parking.

The city would acquire a little over two acres from the Commercial Horizons site to be used for a city trail and for a public trail-access parking lot.

Tax incremental funding would be needed for the project, and a proposed new tax increment district, TID No. 15, would be overlaid onto an older, nearly completed district, TID No. 8, which is there now.

The project is located in what is now TID No. 8, but that district has about four years left, said De Pere Director of Planning and Economic Development Kim Flom.

“That limits the ability of the city to provide incentive, and it very much limits the ability for the city to earn the increment of that new development over time,” she said. “So it’s not uncommon to consider an overlay TID, which means it’s essentially a new TID district that pulls some of the undeveloped properties out of the old TID (and creates a new district).”

The city did the same thing with TIDs No. 11 and 12 in the industrial district, she said.

If all goes as the developer hopes, the developer could start doing earth work in the next few weeks, begin construction in the first three months of 2020 and have it completed by the summer of 2021.

The project would cost $35 million and have a guaranteed assessed value of $27 million by the time it’s finished.

Flom said it’s not unusual for construction costs of such a project to be more than the guaranteed assessed value.

The finance committee voted to recommend using its financial advisor, Baird, as its consultant for the amending of the boundaries of TID No. 8 to make way for the creation of TID No. 15, and another new TID in the works.

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