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Green Bay City Council passes Shipyard, Green Bay Packaging proposals

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GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Tuesday was a busy night for Green Bay City Council, passing major city project proposals.

Green Bay Packaging

The Council unanimously approved an incentive package for Green Bay Packaging's new paper mill. Last week the company announced its plan to invest more than $500 million into a new state-of-the-art mill.

The city will be providing $23 million in assistance. The incentive means Green Bay Packaging will get back 90 percent of the taxes it pays on the new assessed value it creates with the new mill.

Also, the city will be providing some land it owns near the mill.

The Brown County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Wednesday night on $5.3 million in infrastructure improvements for the project. The state is planning to provide $60 million in tax credits.

Green Bay Packaging Executive Vice President Bryan Hollenbach told the council the assistance helps keep the company and its 1.100 Brown County employees in the area.

"If we're going to do this, we're going to do it right because we want it to be an asset. The last mill lasted 70 years. I don't know if this one will last 70 years, but we want it to last 50. We want it to be a lasting foundation for, frankly, the city of Green Bay," Hollenbach said.

The Shipyard Project

However, when it came time to talk about the city's new Shipyard proposal, there was some debate among the council members.

The disagreement was on the risk the city is taking in building the public part of the Shipyard in order to attract private development to the area.

One week ago is also when we first saw the new renderings for the proposed Shipyard District on the western edge of the Fox River.

The $10 million proposal includes a turf field and an array of converted shipping containers for food and retail shops. There would also be an urban beach, children's playground, boat slips, and a kayak launch.

City officials say $30 million in private development is needed to keep this project off the city tax levy. That's because tax revenue from new development in the area would pay off what the city bonds for the project.

Four council members wanted instead to secure the private development, before moving forward with the city's part.

The other eight council members said the city's investment is needed to attract the new private development.

"I'm not against the project in its entirety, I just think we need to talk about adding development to offset the risk of borrowing money to make this project work," said Alderman Jesse Brunette.

Alderman Brian Johnson argues the time for waiting is over.

"For the last 30 to 40 years when the city has owned this property, we've been waiting for $30 million of development to come in and it hasn't," said Johnson. "I think it's time for us to try something new."

City officials have say they hope to break ground on the Shipyard this year. They' also say they believe a private developer will invest in the area before the end of the year.

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