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Bad Economy Forces Halt to Harley-Davidson Office Development Plans Near Museum

Harley-Davidson Inc. is dropping a plan to build new offices near the company’s museum, and the proposal would end Harley’s obligation to develop the buildings, totaling 100,000 square feet, on the parking lots it owns across from the museum.

But backing out of the plan won’t come cheap, Harley-Davidson would pay the city $700,000 for the privilege of not building.

The bad news doesn’t end there for the iconic American motorcycle manufacturing company. If the company receives an offer to sell the parking lots they targeted for the building within the next five years, the local city council gets first dibs on buying the 3.5-acre parcel for $535,000.

The proposal to drop its development plan for the parking lots was prompted by a large drop in motorcycle sales which also forced Harley to reduce its workforce and cut other costs.

The city says the company’s promise to develop additional office and commercial space and generate more jobs was the main reason they approved the original museum plan seven years ago.

The for-profit Harley-Davidson Museum in the Menomonee Valley of Wisconsin currently has 30 full-time employees and 45 part-time employees. Company officials said the museum restaurant, Motor, security, and janitorial firms account for another 130 employees at the museum complex.

Over its life, Harley-Davidson says it has invested $85 million in the museum complex and attracted more development to the Menomonee Valley.

But fear not for the company’s bottom line, the original plan called for the city to compensate Harley-Davidson for an estimated $7 million in site development costs for the museum complex, and now that no parking lots will be developed, the firm will get back up to $5.76 million of that total.

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