Former Menards location has been vacant since 2008

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Monday, January 9, 2012

What's going on here?

The short answer: Absolutely nothing.

For 24 years, the 85,000-square-foot building at 2700 Pontiac Place was the Janesville home of Menards.

It's been vacant since May 2008, when Menards opened its new store a few blocks away on Morse Street.

"We haven't had any inquiries on the property in a couple of years," said Gale Price, Janesville's manager of building and development services.

The only serious interest in the property came when one developer looked at the property as a possible site for a couple of hotels and another, a large Madison retailer, considered the property for a store.

Both fell apart over economic uncertainties.

Menards still owns the 15-acre parcel, which includes buildings in the back that had been used in the retailer's lumber operation.

Since the store closed in 2008, Menards has paid more than $425,000 in property taxes on the site. The most recent bill for tax year 2011 is $112,726.

A Menards spokesman would say nothing about the property other than it is for sale.

Make no mistake, the property could be attractive to developers. It has prime access to Janesville's busy shopping corridor, as well as Interstate 90/39.

Development sources have said the major obstacles to redevelopment include the overall economy, the high cost of the property and general difficulty in obtaining financing.

When a new development is proposed, Price said, the city will need to take a hard look at traffic patterns in the area.

As a busy retailer, Menards often contributed to traffic congestion at the intersection of Pontiac Place and Pontiac Drive, as well as Pontiac Drive's intersection with Highway 14.

"Because of its size, it probably lends itself to a mixed use, several different businesses," Price said.

"And it would probably be better, given the existing traffic flow, if it was the type of place that people don't go into and out of all the time, like they did when it was Menards."

Last updated: 7:34 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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