Mount Pleasant Plots its Future

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 11:00 am

Spotlight On: Racine County

The recent incorporation of the communities of Caledonia and Mount Pleasant as villages should spur additional new commercial real estate development along the Interstate 94 corridor in Racine County. However, Mount Pleasant will take its time in developing a large stretch of land abutting I-94. Last year, the village placed an 18-month development moratorium on a 2,300-acre parcel near the intersection of I-94 and Highway 20. The moratorium will expire this year, but much more work needs to be done before development on the parcel can proceed.

The village commissioned Illinois-based Lakota Group to create a master plan for the parcel, which was completed this fall. That study recommends specific areas of the property for different types of development, including residential, office, retail and mixed use. It also suggests where roads and utilities should be built, as well as different layout options.

Mount Pleasant will start talks about prioritizing different areas and types of development on Feb. 28, when it holds a joint meeting of the Village Board and Economic Development Committee, said Kevin O’Donnell, village administrator. The joint meeting will be a first step toward forming the village’s development strategy for the area, he said.

"We may want to start steering development in one area first before we have a scattered development," O’Donnell said. "We want to look at what the plan calls for and what role the village will play in how we steer that development."

The village has decided that it wants to attract developers that put large-scale projects together, O’Donnell said, but the community needs to figure out how to attract such developers.

"There’s a market approach to attracting those folks, but it also means having your house in order," he said.

O’Donnell said developing a specific plan for the 2,300-acre parcel will be a great start for the village.

"It’s like starting a new football team," he said. "You need a good solid foundation."

Village officials haven’t undertaken any developments this large before, O’Donnell said, which is why they need to be as cautious and thorough as possible.

"This is a big change of how we did business in the past," he said.

Municipal sewer and water lines from the city of Racine have been extended along Highway 20 to the area’s boundary, but will need further extension into the area when developments are proposed, O’Donnell said. The village also needs to decide how the parcel will access I-94 from Highway 20.

In addition, Legacy Development has started work on 10 model homes that are part of Heartland Village, an arts and crafts subdivision planned at the southeast corner of County Highways C and H in Mount Pleasant. When finalized, Heartland Village will feature 198 single-family home lots, 32 duplex or townhouse condo lots, eight 16-unit condo buildings and a senior housing complex.

The 10 model homes currently under construction are on Old Spring Street, the only existing street in the proposed subdivision. Sandra Carlson, a Realtor with Shorewest Realtors who is marketing Heartland Village, said roads leading into the first phase of the subdivision should be ready for contractors to get into the area by July or August.

A parade of homes in the model homes is planned for this fall.

Heartland Village is being developed with new urbanism concepts. Most destinations in the area, including a nearby YMCA proposed near the subdivision’s entrance on Highway H, will be within a 10-minute walk.

Meanwhile, several other large residential projects are proposed in the I-94 corridor in Racine County.

Legacy Development Co. is creating several large-scale subdivisions in Racine County. While each of the subdivisions is largely made up of single-family homes, several of them include retail and even office space.

Legacy Development’s Twelve Oaks development is planned for about 320 acres at the intersection of Highways K and V in Caledonia. When complete, the development will have 950 homes.

The Twelve Oaks project also calls for 200,000 square feet of office space and 270,000 square feet of retail, including a grocery store and a bed and breakfast inn.

Twelve Oaks would also be a new urbanism, pedestrian-friendly subdivision and would also have athletic fields, natural areas, a church, a school and a tennis and swimming club funded by the homeowner’s association.

The Twelve Oaks project is scheduled to be built between 2007 and 2012, but Legacy Development president John Helding said he might be able to get the project started by the end of 2006. The project still needs preliminary and final plat approval from Caledonia.

"Caledonia has been the front-runner for planning, trying to keep up with smart growth and issues like that," Helding said. "They created the first land use plan in the early 1990s, and they’ve been tweaking it since then. They just recently adopted a plan for the corridor (that) I’m working in. I’m basically following what they recommend for the area."

Racine County’s large amounts of available land near the interstate highway and close location to both Milwaukee and Chicago are making it an ideal place to pursue mixed-use developments, Helding said.

"With the amenities that Milwaukee offers, you’re close to good restaurants and entertainment," he said. "You’re 20 minutes from downtown (Milwaukee). And Racine is building up a new downtown – it’s becoming known for arts and crafts. All that stuff is beneficial."

Key Racine County Projects

  • Former Racine Steel Castings foundry in Racine has been gutted. Champion Environmental, an Illinois firm, is reportedly almost ready to start leasing office space inside. Soil remediation work continues.
  • Madison-based Gorman & Co. will break ground soon on a mixed-used development at 141 Main St., in downtown Racine. The $19 million development will have 17,000 square feet of ground level retail space, 84 apartments and 23 condos. The city has already created a $1.8 million TIF for the project.
  • Riverbend Lofts, a conversion of a former industrial building at 718 S. Marquette St., in downtown Racine, will convert a former four-story industrial building into 51 loft condos. Developer Harvest Development, of Kenosha, is also planning 28 townhouses for the site, which has been estimated at $15.3 million. Racine has also granted the project a $1.2 million TIF.
  • A moratorium on 2,300 acres of available land in Mount Pleasant will expire this year. The newly incorporated village is in the planning phase for the area, and will start official talks between village committees later this month on how best to develop it.
  • Numerous subdivisions in Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and other Racine County communities near I-94.

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