Milton city administrator: 'You'd better get in now'
MILTON—In a pitch to local realtors and developers at a development junket Wednesday, Milton City Administrator Jerry Schuetz borrowed a quote from the UW-Madison athletic director.
“To paraphrase Barry Alvarez, he once said, 'If you want season tickets, you'd better get them now,'” Schuetz said. “Well, I'm saying, 'If you want to get into Milton, you'd better get in now.'”
Schuetz was speaking at a breakfast briefing Wednesday morning attended mostly by local stakeholders—Milton-area bankers, realtors and residential developers. But the message was one Schuetz said city officials plan to repeat to companies he says already are sniffing around the 250 acres of land offered for development along the new Highway 26 bypass/Highway 59 corridor.
Schuetz said he's had phone calls from three or four restaurant and retail developers in the last month who said they like the visibility of parcels along the new bypass, which cuts a high, swinging arc past the city's east side.
To the layperson driver who passes undeveloped land along the new bypass, which was completed a little over a month ago, it appears the road goes east around Milton. Schuetz said the city views the new road's curve differently, and Schuetz plans on selling it differently, too.
The city's lens: The bypass runs right through the Crossroads Business Park, a city tax increment financing district that blankets the interchange of Highway 59 and the new Highway 26 bypass.
Hence, Schuetz explained, the city's former backyard is now its front yard.
“Now it (the bypass) goes through the city,” Schuetz said “This (business park) is going to be a gateway to the city."
In the briefing Wednesday, Schuetz unveiled some of the city's plans for developing city and privately held land in the business park. Among the items he showed realtors and developers were maps from a consultant study that showed how the business park is organized in parcels sectioned off and organized.
The plans show separate uses for business, retail and commercial properties on parcels to the west of the bypass and industrial development to the east of it.
Schuetz explained that chunks of land in the business park vary from 60 to 15 acres, and though some are still owned privately, they're all included in a city TIF district. That makes the parcels eligible for city incentives designed to offset land purchase and development costs.
The also city could move forward with another study on how to continue to market parcels in the business park. That study, Schuetz said, hinges on a separate traffic flow study of post-bypass Milton, which the city is now working on.
Schuetz also talked about the city's ongoing efforts to recruit a midsize, 80- to 100-room hotel along the Highway 26/Highway 59 interchange. A potential hotel development, which is supported by a 2012 city study, would cost about $8 million and could need outside equity investment of up to $4 million to become a reality, Schuetz said.
The city does not have overnight lodging, and a hotel could be a lynchpin in development along the bypass corridor, Schuetz said.
Milton-area Realtor Fred Hookham said he believes the completion of the bypass was well timed, dovetailing with resurgence in the economy.
“With some apparent optimism returning to the business community, we're perfectly positioned now. The Milton bypass is done now just in time to grab the first attention of the people, the developers, that want to make a move early on,” Hookham said. “And we've got enough variety of parcels between commercial and manufacturing that it really bodes well.”
Meanwhile, city officials are riding high on the announcement Tuesday that the city has earned the Austin Consulting “shovel ready” designation for 115 acres along Highway 59 in the Crossroads Business Park.
The shovel-ready designation, which was aided through a certification program by economic development group Rock County 5.0, greases the wheels of development. It means the land has been reviewed for suitability in ownership, utilities and transportation, and is now certified for ready-made development in as little as 30 days.