Consultant to help Milton plan bypass business development

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Neil Johnson
Wednesday, June 5, 2013

— The city of Milton is turning to a consultant to help define what its soon-to-be front yard could look like.

The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to spend up to $20,000 for a two-phase development plan by Madison consultant Vandewalle & Associates that would focus on how the city could plan and attract development in the Crossroads Business Park.

The business park is located along the future Highway 59/Highway 26 bypass corridor, where 16,000 to 20,000 cars will pass a day.

City Administrator Jerry Schuetz told the council Tuesday that a consultant’s plan would help the city make the best use of what he considers one of its top development assets—land along the bypass corridor.

According to Schuetz and a proposal from Vandewalle & Associates, the plan would:

-- Examine local “economic drivers,” the economic forces that spur or impede business developments.

-- Identify local priorities for business developments and focus on planning the sequence of potential business developments.

-- Identify what potential businesses could be catalysts or boosters for other developments nearby.

-- A review of the best potential use of business park parcels and a review of the costs of development.

-- Recruitment and marketing to draw businesses to the bypass corridor.

The city’s comprehensive-use map of the Crossroads Business Park shows city-owned, developable land split into parcels that range from 4 acres to 26 acres.

Milton City Administrator Jerry Schuetz likens the city’s business park to a template for a jigsaw puzzle that hasn’t been stamped out yet.

Schuetz said a consultant’s development plan would help the city understand how to market and develop those parcels in an order that makes sense.

“Rather than just kind of taking a business opportunity as it comes, first-come, first-serve, we want a master plan,” Schuetz said. “We want to make sure that the efforts we put into economic development along that (Highway 59/Highway 26 bypass) corridor are purposeful and strategic.”

Schuetz said that during the years of recession, city planners had a feeling that they needed to lunge at every potential development opportunity that came along.

As the regional economy continues to improve, Schuetz said he believes the city now can afford to be discriminating about what business developments it pursues.

“We don’t want to get excited just because one person wants to do something,

Schuetz said.

“One decision certainly impacts future decisions. Certainly, we don’t want to make mistakes. We want to make sure that every piece fits into the puzzle and the plan of that puzzle,” Schuetz said.

The bypass is slated for completion later this year, and work currently underway is now giving shape to how the road will ultimately look to drivers on the bypass.

As the project marches toward completion, in recent weeks the city has seen an uptick in phone calls and emails from third party developers interested in locating businesses along the bypass corridor in Milton, Schuetz said.

City officials have made it no secret that they’d like to anchor commercial development along the bypass corridor with development of a midsize hotel.

The city in the last year has done feasibility studies and is now beginning a recruitment effort to market a four-acre parcel that the city has earmarked for a potential hotel along Highway 59 near the intersection of the future Highway 26 bypass.

Schuetz said that among other functions, a consultant’s development plan would demonstrate to hotel developers what types of companion businesses could be viable along the bypass corridor.

“We’re in effect telling them, ‘Here’s what other planned development in and around that parcel could be,’” Schuetz said.

Last updated: 7:56 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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