By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The city of Marshfield will contribute $2 million toward Forward Financial Bank’s project to build a new facility just east of Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts.
The common council approved a development agreement between the city and Forward Financial Bank on Tuesday night. Director of Development Services Jason Angell said the cost to build the bank is estimated at $16 million, while the agreement states that the project must have an assessed value of at least $11 million upon completion.
The agreement comes on the heels of the council striking a deal to purchase Forward Financial Bank’s current facility at 207 W. Sixth St. for $2.6 million to serve as new city headquarters. The last domino to fall in this series of events will be the city reaching an agreement with developer Gorman & Company Inc. to sell the current city hall building. Barg said he expected the council would approve a development agreement with Gorman at its next meeting on June 14.
If and when a deal with Gorman is struck, it will begin the process of relocating city offices to Forward Financial’s Sixth Street facility, Forward Financial constructing and moving into its new building, and Gorman redeveloping City Hall into workforce housing.
The development agreement approved Tuesday night calls for Forward Financial to complete construction of its new facility “on or before Sept. 30, 2018.” Barg has said in the past that he thought the city would move into Forward Financial’s Sixth Street facility in the fall of 2018.
The city, Barg said, anticipates receiving $264,000 per year in property tax revenue from Forward Financial’s new facility and hopes to make back its $2 million investment in about nine years. The city will borrow to contribute the $2 million. Barg and Mayor Chris Meyer called the $2 million investment “proportional” to the scope of the total $16 million project.
“The important point to make, the $2 million we’re giving them for the bank, the new bank, they are repaying with their new taxes they’re generating,” Meyer said. Forward Financial’s Sixth Street facility, Meyer added, would come off the tax roll when the city moves in, but the current City Hall will go back on the tax roll once Gorman assumes ownership. Meyer and Barg said that while City Hall, once converted into housing, would likely not bring in as much tax revenue as Forward Financial’s current Sixth Street facility, the new bank location would generate more tax revenue than the Sixth Street facility.
“The net gain is positive,” Meyer said. “We’re going to be bringing in more tax revenue when everything’s said and done and in place than we do today.”
Barg added, “We haven’t had a $16 million construction cost project since I’ve been here. I mean, that’s huge. We talk about some of these (new developments) in the industrial park and it’s a $2 or $3 million building. This is five times that.”
Plans call for Forward Financial’s new facility to be about 55,000 square feet, which will consolidate the company’s north- and south-side locations.