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OAK CREEK — Zünd America Inc., an industrial equipment supplier currently based in Franklin, is considering a 3.4-acre parcel at Drexel Town Square for its new U.S. headquarters.

The development, if the sale is realized and the development moves forward, would be another feather in the cap for the mixed-use Drexel center, which has grown steadily for years as the heart of the city's business district.

Under the proposal, the city is considering a tax-increment financing incentive grant for the development.

Attracted to Drexel

The parcel is currently owned by Woodman's Food Market. The building, according to a Jan. 20 release, would be a combination of offices, showroom, and warehouse space for the company's growing sales and service operations in North America.

Zünd America currently has its headquarters at 5068 Ashland Way in Franklin, but company officials like what they are seeing in Oak Creek and, particularly, Drexel.

“Drexel Town Square revealed a unique opportunity for our company given its growing urban amenities,” said Zünd America Vice President Chris Nicholson. “When our corporate leadership toured the development, they were awed that such new urbanist stylings could be found in the United States.”

TIF potential

The Oak Creek Common Council met in closed session Dec. 20 where, according to the meeting agenda, terms of a "proposed development agreement, including a TIF incentive grant" was discussed for a Woodman's-owned property at 8142 S. 6th St.

City Administrator Andrew Vickers said the city is still considering a TIF money for the project. Under TIF districts, certain upfront development costs are financed through new tax dollars generated by the development itself for a set number of years.Property owners within the district still pay the taxes, but a portion of what they pay is used for developments costs. This grant would be to help offset land acquisition and preparation costs, Vickers said.

As of now, the square footage of the building has not been finalized – it's estimated to be between 40,000 and 50,000 square feet, though it could be larger. Once that is finalized, any potential incentive can be calculated, Vickers said.

In a bit of a unique move, the city is also working on a parking partnership. Vickers said the city desires to have additional overflow parking in Drexel Town Square for larger events, and the project property can support additional parking which Zünd doesn't need.

"Yes we're (thinking of) giving some TIF money, but there's also some awesome public benefits," Vickers said. "I think that's kind of a unique strategy."

Still planning

There are no site specifics or timelines yet, according to the release. The company is expected to submit formal plans to Oak Creek. The city will discuss a formal development agreement in the coming weeks. Vickers added he's hoping the project will come more into focus in February or March.

“We are excited to partner with Zünd America Inc. on its expansion plans, and are happy the company has chosen Oak Creek to be its new home," Vickers said. "This announcement truly speaks to efforts the city has made in creating a well-planned, welcoming environment in Drexel Town Square."

Zund America's parent company, Zünd Systemtechnik AG, specializes in industrial, precision-cutting machines. The company's world headquarters is in Switzerland.

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