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Broker: Bidding for former GM site remains open an extra week

JANESVILLE

It’s not yet clear whether parts of the mammoth former General Motors plant property will sell through a private auction that initially was slated to end last week. But a broker involved said the property’s owner decided to extend the auction another week.

This week, bids remained open for both major parcels of the 240-acre property in a monthslong auction that owner Commercial Development Company began orchestrating mid-summer.

Image courtesy of The Future of Real Estate 

An online advertisement shows a broker has extended an auction of the former GM site parcels in Janesville for another week beyond the sale’s initial sunset date.

The Future of Real Estate, the international firm that is hosting the auction, shows on its website that bidding for the former auto plant parcels at the end of last week had reached $1.14 million for the 114-acre, main GM plant site. That is the property’s northern half—the now vacant expanse of concrete slabs that once housed the more than two-million-square-foot GM auto plant.

Bids closed out last week at $1.03 million for the other main parcel, the 112-acre former JATCO haul-away yard to the south of the main plant property.

So far those bids, along with a $375,000 bid for an ancillary lot east of the main plant, add up to $2.5 million. That’s far less than the $9 million Commercial Development paid GM for the defunct property when the company bought it in 2017, vowing to level and clear the site and ready the rail-heavy parcels for future industrial redevelopment.

Alex Welton, a broker with The Future of Real Estate who is managing the sale, said the auctions for each of the three parcels had drawn a “handful” of bids as of last week.

He said Commercial Development decided to roll the auction out another week in a final lightning round for bids.

“Commercial Development had the choice of moving to what we call a ‘best and final’ round. It’s just basically extended a week, and that gives everyone else a chance to come back and polish their bids if they want to meet or beat whatever the highest bid amount was,” Welton said.

It could be weeks before Commercial Development reveals whether it has sold either of the main properties. Local observers—particularly officials at the city of Janesville—are following the outcome closely.

Some city officials say they’re concerned Commercial Development wants to unload the property after leveling the former plant buildings and scrapping out and selling off tons of structural metal and thousands of pieces of factory equipment at the northern, 114-acre main plant site, which is the one main parcel in the property that remains under an active brownfield cleanup plan.

So far, no major industrial reuse projects for the main plant site have emerged publicly, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has yet to formally close the book on its environmental review of the northern main plant parcel.

Commercial Development has asked the State Department, the site’s main regulatory authority, for a “letter of closure”—a designation which would signal the DNR has closed the books on environmental review of the site provided the site’s owners adhere to agreements such as how the owner must cap possible ground contamination from GM’s 100 years of plant operations.

Gale Price, the city of Janesville’s economic development director, said he is worried that piles of leftover rubble and dozens of acres of concrete slabs still in the ground on the property’s northern half might turn off some prospective buyers who wouldn’t see that part of property as being ready for redevelopment.

The city of Janesville has no direct role in the sale, but Price said that as the auction moves to a close, his office has fielded a raft of inquiries about the properties’ vital statistics and its environmental status.

City officials say the DNR has indicated it could reach a decision on Commercial Development’s request sometime early in 2022.

Welton said his firm does not publicly divulge information about prospective buyers and it doesn’t publicly identify bidders mid-auction. He described the process as “sealed,” with information on bids shared between the seller and the broker.

He declined to say whether he has seen any new bids this week that would raise the ante on the ongoing auction of the site.

Welton said he considers the auction a more complex process compared to the sale of farmland or certified, shovel-ready properties.

Welton said his goal is to help Commercial Development land a buyer or buyers that might have immediate plans to redevelop the property. That, he suggested, is preferable to a buyer who would land big parts of the property with plans to hold the land inactive.

In any case, Welton said, any buyer might have to spend weeks working through a closing process which could include further negotiations over “contingencies,” which could include the challenge of the ongoing environmental review on one of the big parcels.

Ultimately, he said, it is Commercial Development’s call on whether to go through with the sale of some or all the old auto plant site based on the auction’s outcome.

He characterized the company as a “motivated” seller.

He said Commercial Development’s choice to extend the auction a week “doesn’t mean they (Commercial Development) aren’t going to go with anything that’s already on the table.”

“The sellers are just hoping that they can possibly get the bidders to come up from where they are currently,” Welton said. “Obviously, the whole idea behind an auction is to bump up the numbers as high as you can.”


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New training tower helps light a fire under Blackhawk Tech fire protection and EMS programs

From the outside, the blue three-story fire tower looks clean, tidy and nonthreatening. When in action, however, chaos from all angles comes billowing out in the form of fire and smoke.

Starting next spring, students in the fire protection and emergency medical services programs at Blackhawk Technical College will have access to the state-of-the-art facility located at the college’s Public Safety and Transportation Center on County G between Janesville and Beloit.

As part of a $32 million voter-approved referendum passed last November, the fire tower is just one of the many planned additions to Blackhawk Tech’s 31-acre training grounds.

According to Liz Paulsen, executive director of marketing and communications at the college, the project was much needed.

“We are hoping it will lift the entire college enrollment with these new facilities and boost the overall appeal,” she said.

Bradley Ziegler/Blackhawk Technical College 

Firefighters from the Janesville and Beloit fire departments load burn barrels into the second-floor burn rooms of the newly built fire tower at Blackhawk Technical College’s Public Safety and Transportation Center on Tuesday.

Currently, the college provides training in the program’s mobile live fire lab. But program coordinator Robert Balsamo said that facility can no longer house live fires and is in need of renovation. The lab consists of a 30-foot trailer, whereas the new fire tower was built from several 40-foot recycled shipping containers.

One of the biggest benefits of the new on-site fire tower, Balsamo said, is that it eliminates the need to load up training equipment and haul the mobile lab to other locations.

“By having it here, the students get dressed in their gear and go right out to the training site,” he said of the structure.

Not only is the facility readily available, most elements of it are customizable. The interior burn rooms have removable ventilation roofs, adjustable barriers and rooms that can be altered in size. This enables Balsamo and other instructors to create many simulated environments.

“We can change the configuration so students don’t get used to doing the same thing,” he said.

During a series of sessions this week, instructors and members of the Janesville and Beloit fire departments had the opportunity to try out the many features of the fire tower and become familiar with the type of training they will incorporate in future instruction.

The public might also get a chance to make use of the facility during safety demonstrations of equipment such as sprinkler systems.

Bradley Ziegler/Blackhawk Technical College 

A firefighter waits for wood in a burn barrel at Blackhawk Technical College’s new fire tower to fully ignite during a training exercise Tuesday.

Students won’t be able to begin training in the tower until sometime around late February, Balsamo said, as the site needs to be fully wired and additional construction is underway to facilitate equipment storage units. While he noted other colleges throughout the state have similar training sites on campus, Blackhawk Tech will be one of the more attractive options for students in Southern Wisconsin and even neighboring states.

“We’re going to have a lot of advantages here,” he said.


Obituaries and death notices for Nov. 17, 2021

Patrick Cromwell

Jeri Ruth DeLange

Anthony Farberg

B. Dean “Mac” McKibben

Anthony W. “Tony” Nelson

Thomas Quast

Virginia Vanark


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Colleagues honor Rock County sheriff's deputy who died last week

Janesville

Rock County Deputy Sheriff Niles Boeche jokes that his friend and colleague Bradley Kaderly was a generous friend who should’ve come with a warning label.

Kaderly died Thursday, Nov. 11, at the age of 39. The sheriff’s office did not indicate how he died, just that his death was “untimely and unexpected” and that he was off duty at the time.

Since his death, his friends and colleagues have been reminiscing about Kaderly’s life and how glad they were to have had him in their lives.

Rock County sheriff’s deputies Anthony Barr, Chris Lochner, Donavon Dodge and Niles Boeche; sheriff’s office Sgt. Michael Schauer; and Edgerton Fire Department Lt. Andrew Mortimer got together Monday night to share memories of their friend.

“We all started at Blackhawk Technical College in August 2002,” Barr said. “That’s actually where I met Chris, Niles and Brad. For whatever reason, we just hit it off. I think we all probably operated on the same maturity level.”

Kaderly began his law enforcement career at the Rock County Juvenile Detention Center and then worked for the Green County Sheriff’s Department for a short time. He started work as a Rock County sheriff’s deputy in 2005.

During his time as a deputy, Kaderly was assigned to the patrol division and was a recreational safety team instructor.

Dodge said he met Kaderly when they were assigned to the patrol division at the same time 11 years ago.

“If you needed anything, he was there at the drop of a hat,” Dodge said. “If I called him up and said I needed a cup of milk, he would have come from his house in Green County. He wouldn’t even ask. And if my wife would have said that, any one of our wives, he would have come there for us. It didn’t matter, he would cancel his plans.”

Mortimer said he met Kaderly in 2006 at a bar in Monroe, where Mortimer was bartending at the time and Kaderly had come with his friends.

“We hit it off because he was a cop and I was a firefighter and we have that love-hate relationship,” Mortimer said. “From day one when I met him, from buying me a drink or doing me a favor, he was always there.”

The men agreed Kaderly treated his friends like family. His friends were his family and his loyalty to them was unmatched.

Lochner joked that Kaderly would give the clothes off his body to a friend during a “wicked snowstorm.” Niles added that Kaderly actually gave him the shirt off his back once.

Kaderly also had a passion for farming from growing up on his family farm. In high school he was a member of the Future Farmers of America, in which he earned a national award, and he earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

In his free time, he enjoyed snowmobiling, canoeing, rafting, spending time at his cabin and riding ATVs and UTVs. Kaderly liked to ride with his dog Draco in the passenger seat of his UTV.

“He modified the UTV for the dog seat. The dog had a pair of goggles that he cut out for the dog’s nose,” Mortimer said. “He also got a harness for him if they had to stop real quick.”

Dodge said Kaderly probably wouldn’t approve of the memorials and tributes his friends are planning.

“Wherever he’s sitting right now, he’s plotting our deaths because we are going on and on about him.” Dodge said, prompting laughter.

“But every one of us here has cried our eyes out like a baby several times since Thursday,” Dodge added. “He’s going to haunt us because we’re creating such a fuss over him.”

Sara Myers 

In front of the Rock County Deputy Sheriff's Office is a memorial display for Deputy Brad Kaderly who passed away Nov. 11, 2021. The display reads, "We'll miss you Deputy Kaderly."

Boeche said Kaderly turned down award and recognition for his work as a deputy because he just wanted to help people.

“He never got the recognition that he deserved and there’s no amount of recognition that will actually do him justice,” Boeche said.

Rock County Sheriff Troy Knudson also commented on Kaderly’s death Monday.

“Brad worked here with us for 16 years. In a job like this, one definitely goes through some difficult times,” Knudson said. “When you share those types of experiences, we grow close bonds, much more than what one normally sees in regular circles. As a result, he felt like a member of our family here. That is why he’s going to be missed so much. And yet, as much as we are going to miss him here at the sheriff’s office, we recognize that his family and his circle of friends will also be missing him a great deal, and our heart goes out to all of them.”

Kaderly’s visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. today at Shriner-Hager-Gohlke Funeral Home, 1455 Mansion Drive in Monroe. The visitation is open to the public.

Members of law enforcement are expected to take part in a procession at noon on Thursday from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Brodhead to the Greenwood Cemetery in Brodhead, where Kaderly is to be buried. Attendance at the funeral will be limited to family, friends, and Rock and Green county law enforcement members.


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