Burtness plans new Orfordville location; village to move into current facility
ORFORDVILLE Burtness Chevrolet plans to build a new dealership that will nearly triple its size in Orfordville, and its current facility would become the Orfordville village offices and police department.
Ground could be moving as early as this week at the new 15-acre site adjacent to the village business park on Highway 11 just west of Highway 213, said Brian Bowditch of Burtness.
"It's about growth. It truly is," he said. "My father bought this company over 35 years ago, and we've grown to the point that we can't grow anymore. I'm not exaggerating when I say this—I personally have not had an office in two years."
The deal also provides needed space for the village, which stores all its records at its wastewater treatment plant, said Sherri Waege, village clerk.
"It's just cramped," she said.
Final details of the developer's agreement are being worked out between the village and Burtness. The village board is expected to approve the agreement at a special meeting Monday, Dec. 3, Waege said.
-- The village plans to buy the 15-acre parcel from Gary Fossum for $270,000, Waege said. The property already has been annexed into the village from the town of Spring Valley and is being added to the business park's existing tax incremental finance district. The village is borrowing $290,000—the extra $20,000 covers closing costs, real estate and engineering fees and the cost to amend the TIF district—over 20 years at 3.75 percent, Waege said.
As the TIF district's property value rises because of the new dealership, the increases in property taxes will be used to pay the village's costs. When the costs are paid or the TIF's limited life expires, the new property taxes will be distributed among all taxing jurisdictions, including the school district and the county.
The village's joint review board meets at 4 p.m. Monday to discuss amending the TIF, with approval of the changes also happening Dec. 3.
-- The village will sell the 15 acres to Burtness for a nominal fee—about $1.
-- The village will take ownership of the current dealership at 303 E. Beloit St. after the business moves to its new facility. A recent appraisal of the property ordered by Burtness came in at about $470,000, Bowditch said.
Burtness approached the village last year about buying the dealership's 9,000-square-foot facility. The board had discussed the issue in closed session for several months, but many details remain undecided on the village's side.
The village intends to use the current dealership for its village hall and police department, but whether the library will be included hasn't been thoroughly discussed, Waege said.
"We've got to decide what we need for room," she said.
The village hasn't discussed renovation costs yet, she said.
The Orfordville Public Library has been trying for years to raise money to build a new library on land it bought in 2008 at 115 N. Center St. About $165,000 has been raised or pledged, including the land value, and the library needs $500,000 to build the facility it has been planning, Librarian Sarah Strunz said.
Strunz said she hasn't been involved in the village's discussions with Burtness but will wait until the deal is done.
"We'll look at the facility and feasibility and costs of putting us there and putting us on our new lot," she said. "(We'll) look at both and see which is the best idea for the village and the library. … We want everything that moves forward to be a positive for Orfordville."
The uncertainty about when a new library will be built or where it will be hampers fundraising, she said.
The library has waited long enough, she said, and the library board will know by March which direction it will go.
Dealership to nearly triple its capacity
The property for the new dealership has groundwater issues that contractors will address this fall, Bowditch said. Depending on weather, crews might work through winter. The business is expecting to move in mid-summer or early fall, he said.
The general contractor is Gilbank Construction of Clinton, and the dealer is "working hard" to make sure Burtness customers are on the job, Bowditch said.
The new dealership will be about 26,000 square feet, nearly tripling its capacity.
The dealer hasn't had a car in its current showroom for more than 10 years, Bowditch said. The new building will allow four cars in the showroom, an indoor delivery bay and covered service drive for customers.
"It truly, truly is about serving our customers, providing them services that we would have always loved to have done before but never could because of the capacities of our building," he said.
The dealership anticipates it will add four to six full-time employees within six to eight months at the new facility. It currently has 32 full-time employees.
Bowditch admits the push from GM to make all dealers look alike set the project in motion faster than they would have moved otherwise, though they still needed extra space. The new facility will be "image compliant" with the blue arch design.