Janesville64.4°

Landowner non-responsive to $10 million offer

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Kayla Bunge
January 9, 2008
— Even though their $10 million offer to buy 710 acres on the city’s south side from Robert Hummel has expired, a coalition of local landowners remains hopeful they can strike a deal.

The group, Lower Density Development LLC, extended the offer in a letter Dec. 10, but it was valid for only 30 days.


The offer has expired, and the group still hasn’t heard a word from Hummel.


“LDD is hopeful,” said Nick Egert, associate attorney with Sweet & Maier of Elkhorn, which is representing the group.


They might be holding out hope for nothing, however.


“It is not worthy of any comment,” said Mirbeau-Hummel representative John Terrell.


He said the developer is “in the middle of a public process with the city” and the property isn’t for sale.


“It is completely inappropriate to have any discussion or to be entertaining any offer,” Terrell said.


The Lake Geneva Plan Commission on Nov. 27 narrowly approved a rezone request for the land and a general development plan. The city council on Dec. 10 voted to put the Mirbeau-Hummel issue to referendum in April. The council postponed until April the first reading of the rezoning ordinance.


Lower Density Development extended the offer to purchase the Hummel property to provide an alternative, Egert said.


According to a formal statement issued by the group, the landowners who comprise the group are “concerned about overdevelopment and traffic congestion, which would negatively impact the quietude and natural beauty of Geneva Lake and the surrounding area.”


Although it’s in the “very early planning stages,” Egert said, the group has some idea of what it would do with the property if its offer would be accepted.


Any development would be of a lower density, provide more open space, enhance local parks, protect the lake and preserve more of the natural environment than the proposed Mirbeau-Hummel development, he said.


Lower Density Development will likely sit down soon to reconsider its offer and look at other options, Egert said.


The city assessor said the five parcels are assessed as agricultural land at a total of $292,600. The city administrator said the land likely would garner a higher price if sold as developable land.


Egert said “rumor has it” the land is worth $6 million, which provided a benchmark for the group’s offer.


“It wouldn’t make sense to offer that or less,” he said.


Lower Density Development formed in December in response to the publicity surrounding the proposed Mirbeau-Hummel development, Egert said.


The proposal from Hummel Group and Mirbeau of Geneva Lake calls for The Mirbeau Retreat with 100 rooms and 12 villas, a spa, banquet and conference facilities and 57 single-family cottages. Also included are plans for a vineyard and winery on 25 acres, a restaurant, retail and 882 homes, including a mix of single-family homes, row houses, townhouses and duplexes.


Egert said the formation of Lower Density Development and the subsequent offer to purchase and proof of assets to Hummel was “a quicker decision to get involved than a lot of people would think.”


Their $10 million offer was extended the same day the Lake Geneva City Council voted to put the Mirbeau-Hummel issue to referendum in April.


Egert said the group didn’t anticipate publicity about their offer.


“They want to make a legitimate offer and, to be entirely honest, nobody really anticipated this would be so public,” he said.



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