Freedom Graphics buying vacant building and extra land in Milton

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Neil Johnson
Wednesday, November 6, 2013

MILTON—Freedom Graphics is moving part of its warehousing operations into a vacant industrial facility in the city's eastside business park, and it is closing on an option to buy adjacent city land for potential future expansion, a company official said.

The Milton City Council on Tuesday approved an option to sell 3.4 acres of city-owned land to the north and east of the former Gateway Mattress facility at 621 Gateway Drive, which Gateway owner Dave Williams announced in August he planned to vacate.

An owner of Freedom Graphics, a direct mail company, is buying the building, and the company will use it for warehouse space.

Terry Brady, an executive at Freedom Graphics, said the move doesn't signal an immediate expansion of operations. For now, Freedom Graphics will use the former Gateway building for warehousing to replace space it lost recently when its lease ran out at a property on Janesville's south side. 

“There may come a time when we turn that warehouse into production. Right now, it's just going to hold paper,” Brady said Tuesday.

Freedom Graphics has a direct mail letter shop at 1101 S. Janesville St., and a smaller warehouse and trucking facility in Milton's Crossroads Business park near the Gateway building.

The pairing of the Gateway building purchase and the three-year option to buy adjacent city land would set Freedom up for future expansion and centralize its operations, warehouse and trucking operations, Brady said.

“It makes more sense for us” to have both operations and warehousing located in Milton, he said.

Brady would not speculate on whether a build out, expansion or addition of jobs could occur in the next year or two while the company holds an option on the land adjacent to the Gateway building.

Brady would only say, “business is definitely good” at Freedom Graphics, and noted it could be viable at some point to convert part of the Gateway building to additional operations.

The deal guarantees, at least, that the vacant building will be immediately filled.

The city has begun a marketing and recruitment plan to push development and to fill parcels along the new Highway 26 bypass/Highway 59 corridor. The corridor is blanketed by the Crossroads Business Park and parcels that are annexed into a TIF district earmarked for a blend of potential business, industrial and residential development.

At the same time, the city made headlines earlier this week when officials went public with an emerging plan for an Interstate interchange and potential industrial development deal at County M and Interstate 90/39 west of the city.

Mayor Brett Frazier views Freedom Graphics' as a potential sign of an improving business climate locally.

“It's an indicator of businesses starting to improve in Milton and Rock County,” Frazier said. “As a city, we get to come out of that bunker mentality and plan things. Freedom (Graphics) is no different.”

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