U.S. Venture, Appleton remain far apart on agreement

Posted on Dec 19, 2019 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive
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Posted by of Insight Publications

What once looked like a big win for Appleton — the decision by U.S. Venture to build its new $57 million headquarters downtown — may not happen.

Two years ago, the city and U.S. Venture agreed on a development deal that would move the company from Kimberly to downtown Appleton. Since then, there’s been a lot of discussion back and forth on deal specifics, but little action.

On Thursday, Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna issued a statement saying the city made an offer of $40 million in payments and incentives to U.S. Venture to encourage the move. The offer was made in November, the mayor said, and the city has yet to hear a response from U.S. Venture, the sixth-largest privately owned business in the state with more than $9 billion in annual sales.

In response, U.S. Venture issued a statement saying the city offer was “encouraging, but they do not follow what was outlined in the development agreement or the proposal presented to U.S. Venture by the city in November.”

U.S. Venture continued that “because of the new restrictions and changes to the development agreement that the city has proposed, we have begun exploring other options, including in other communities.”

The city originally offered U.S. Venture a package worth $37.6 million, which included $25 million for the construction of the underground parking ramp, an $8 million payment to the company and $4.6 million to acquire and clear property for use by U.S. Venture.

The eight-story, 200,000-square-foot building would originally house about 500 employees, but could eventually hold up to 750. There’s also room for U.S. Venture to expand on the site, if needed.

An underground parking garage — which would be built by the city and serve as the foundation of the U.S. Venture’s building — seems to be the main sticking point between both sides. The original cost estimates for the parking garage — $25 million — turned out to be much lower than the revised cost of $36.4 million.

U.S. Venture said it was reaching out to the city to get more clarity on Hanna’s statement since the proposal presented to the company in November “does not give U.S. Venture $40 million. The November offer significantly shifts project risks — such as the construction costs and any cost overruns of the public parking ramp, and relocation of the Mosaic Family Health clinic — and places additional restrictions and responsibilities on U.S. Venture, without an increase to the TIF incentive of $8 million.”

In addition, U.S. Venture said it recently purchased the properties where Fox Banquets/RiverTyme Catering and Trinity Lutheran Church are located for $3.7 million from One Lawrence Street. The company then notified the city, showing the company’s commitment to build downtown.

“We recognize the complexities of a public/private partnership of this scale, and while we’re challenged by the pace at which this project has moved forward, we believe purchasing this land will open the door for more conversations with the city and others about redevelopment on the bluff,” U.S. Venture said in its statement.