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Brown Deer - The village of Brown Deer plans to buy the former Celebrations Banquet Hall and tear it down to create three single-family homes and a future commercial endeavor.

The village board on Monday, Oct. 17, voted to purchase the property at 4740 W. Bradley Road for $375,000 from property owner Lewis Anyanwu. Celebrations closed in December after roughly three years in business. The building has deteriorated in recent years and has been damaged by flooding.

"The goal is to redevelop what is a blighting influence on the west end of Bradley Road," said Brown Deer Community Development Director Nate Piotrowski.

In addition to spurring revitalization in the area, village officials were also motivated to purchase the property after realizing that they only had three months to spend money in the village's second tax incremental finance district.

TIF #2 is estimated close with about $631,000 in revenue. Village officials had previously thought they had until 2019 to spend that money, but after clarification from their attorneys, they realized they had to spend it by January. State law limits expenditures in the last five years of a TIF, and this TIF closes in 2022.

The only other planned expenditure in this TIF district is the $250,000 street lighting project on Bradley Road, which will begin on Nov. 7. When calculating other factors, such as the recent $250,000 sale of the former Lighthouse property, 7909 N. 49th St., village officials calculated the purchase of the Celebrations would leave the TIF district with a balance of $185,524. Any balance left at the close of the TIF district would be divided among the village, school district and other taxing agencies.

Once the village has closed on the sale, the former Celebrations building will be demolished, and the 2.1-acre property will be divided into four parcels.

Three parcels on the north side along Goodrich Lane will be zoned for single-family homes. Piotrowski said he has talked to multiple companies interested in buying single-family homes on those lots. The homes would look similar to the other homes on the block, he said, and would be in the same $150,000 price range.

The front half of the lot is 1 acre and would be marketed for commercial redevelopment. If efforts to redevelop that parcel are unsuccessful, Piotrowski said it could be rezoned for single-family homes.

Trustee Jeff Baker said the Badger Automotive property next door at 4730 W. Bradley Road should have been purchased, as well. He said the building is an eyesore, and it will be difficult to redevelop the Celebrations property without addressing the auto shop. For that reason, Baker voted against the purchase of the Celebrations property.

City Attorney John Fuchs explained that the purchase of the Celebrations property was possible because the property owner approached the village. It's unclear whether the auto shop is for sale, and the city would not be able to use eminent domain unless there was a public project in the works. The auto shop property is assessed at $340,700, according to the village's GIS data.

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