Study could determine what develops across from Corners

March 31, 2014

Looking to repeat its success with landing the Corners development, town officials want to establish a vision for the land north of the Corners that they hope will attract like-minded developers.

"Developers often seek out that kind of vision to get their thoughts rolling," said Town Planning and Zoning Administrator Gary Lake.

For an initial cost estimate of $13,300, the town plans to contract with Vierbicher, which previously helped envision the Corners area, to research development possibilities that could include offices, housing, retail or other uses.

Lake said the goal is to "conceptualize the highest and best use" for the northeast corner of Barker and Bluemound roads as if it were a "blank canvas."

"Because of the value that the Corners will create, a whole new paradigm exists across the street because the land values from the Corners are extraordinary, and that changes more than we can imagine," Lake said.

One development option is already on the table. Mark Wimmer, president of Wimmer Communities, has proposed apartments and retail space for the northeast corner of Bluemound and Barker roads along Poplar Creek.

Wimmer said he would not be asking for any public funding for the project. Because the land is under the same tax-increment district as the Corners project, any development there would help the town pay off its contribution to the Corners.

Town officials have expressed concern that Wimmer's development would only address part of the corner, leaving the rest to develop piecemeal. Wimmer said the other property owners on the corner were not currently looking to sell, leaving his project as the next-best thing and laying a foundation for future redevelopment.

But Lake said the Corners property also originally had multiple owners, and he thought a larger development couldn't be ruled out.

"Developers will make the effort to assemble whatever they need if they see that the community has a common vision," Lake said.

Lake brought Vierbicher's proposal to the town Plan Commission last Wednesday for feedback. The proposal included a focus on office use, which commissioners asked to expand to other uses. A final contract will have to be approved by the Town Board.

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