By Kimberly Johnston, Slipstream
(Madison, WI) Like many American kids, you may have grown up singing the catchy jingle that started with, “My baloney has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R, my baloney has a second name it’s M-A-Y-E-R.” The song brings back fond memories of my childhood, when I ate baloney sandwiches and a time when the Oscar Mayer plant was headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. For ninety-four years it was a symbol of prosperity for Madison’s north side, until its closure in 2017. At one time Oscar Mayer accounted for an estimated 4,000 jobs in the city.
Today, the long-term redevelopment of the former Oscar Mayer site has the possibility of accommodating over 4,000 new jobs and 2,000 residential units once complete, bringing drastically needed commercial activity back to Madison’s north side.
“For generations, Oscar Mayer was an anchor on Madison’s north side providing thousands of family-supporting jobs,” said Patrick Miles, Dane County Board Supervisor and PACE Wisconsin Commission Director. He continued, “It is great news that the site will be repurposed to once again be a source of jobs in the community and, thanks to PACE financing, done so in an environmentally sustainable way.”
Reich Brothers, an industrial real estate firm based in White Plains, New York is redeveloping the Oscar Mayer Station, located at 910 Mayer Avenue. They are using commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) financing to make significant energy efficiency updates to the multi-phase project. During phase one, the developer was able to refinance over $7 million in project costs for extensive energy updates in the 285,000 square feet of office space and 300,000 square feet of industrial space. Updates that will help save energy and money for years to come include HVAC boilers, chillers and air handling units, LED lighting upgrades, electrical optimization and submetering, lobby windows, and low flow fixtures. Brownfield abatement measures were also included. Edison Energy performed the energy audit that calculated energy savings, which also means tons of carbon kept out of the air we breathe, fossil fuel not burned, and water conserved.
“We were pleased to work with Greenworks Lending to provide PACE funding to remodel a historic site like the Oscar Mayer Station,” shared Adam Reich, CEO, Reich Brothers. He continued, “Working in conjunction with the new market tax credits, we were able to reduce the required equity, enhance our return on investment, and realize significant savings in energy usage.”
“The former Oscar Mayer facility is a great example of the variety of energy-saving projects Greenworks can finance through the C-PACE program. Additionally, this was a great example of the retroactive financing allowed under the PACE Wisconsin guidelines. We were able to replenish equity used to start the project with C-PACE proceeds, allowing the owners to use the equity for additional investment while enhancing the return of the property,” shared Christopher Ellis, Business Development Director, Midwest, Greenworks Lending.
“The project stakeholders were focused on executing a long-term sustainable renovation that will result in energy efficiency, better indoor air quality, and high-performance buildings. The energy efficiency and water conservation measures will result in lifetime clean energy benefits that not only benefit tenants, but also the community,” noted Farhan Khatri, Regional Manager – Midwest, Edison Energy.
“The refinance of energy efficiency investments installed in the former Oscar Mayer site demonstrates the value PACE financing brings to Wisconsin’s economic development toolbox. PACE financing lowers the cost of doing business in Wisconsin, by leveraging private capital to fund sustainable investments in commercial properties all without taxpayer support. The PACE Wisconsin program is in position to deliver these advantages and benefits statewide,” shared Jason Stringer, Program Administrator, PACE Wisconsin & Slipstream.
The hope of job creation, economic development, and energy savings have me singing the Oscar Mayer jingle, once again.