Pabst Farms shows signs of progress

Residential development is progressing at the 1,500-acre Pabst Farms mixed-use development at I-94 and Highway 67 in Oconomowoc and Summit and changes proposed for the site plans could boost retail development there.

Plans for Walmart and Sam’s Club stores have been dropped, for now.

Pabst Farms Development Inc. announced recently that the 144-unit first phase of condo development at Village Crossing is almost sold out. Pabst Farms’ condo development partner, Kings Way Homes, currently has six units under construction, with three of the units already sold. Once these units are completed, only two units in the first phase of the development remain to be built.

“We saw prices on existing homes in the surrounding area jump by 20 to 25 percent in 2013, and 2014 is looking even better,” said Craig Caliendo, president of Kings Way Homes. “Couples that have been waiting for home prices to rebound before downsizing are now aggressively working to sell. Interest in our condos at Pabst Farms was very strong in 2013. We’ve carried that momentum into early 2014, and expect to finish building out the first phase of Village Crossing early in the year.”

In addition, Neumann Companies announced recently that they are partnering with Pabst Farms to develop the Lake Country Village neighborhood inside the Pabst Farms development. A development plan has been submitted to the Village of Summit that includes 205 half acre lots.

“The real estate market is rapidly rebounding and there is strong demand for quality home sites in desirable neighborhoods with good schools and a high quality of life,” said Matt Neumann, president of Neumann Companies. “We have worked closely with Pabst Farms for several years and share their vision for a master-planned community where people can live, work, play and shop.”

The new neighborhood will join the neighborhoods of Eastlake Village and Village Crossing at Pabst Farms. The development will be integrated into the interconnected trail system throughout Pabst Farms.

“This latest development is a sign of the ongoing strong demand in Pabst Farms,” said Peter Bell, president of Pabst Farms Development Inc. “The long anticipated Lake Country Village expansion is continued progress towards making our original vision a reality.”

Also, Pabst Farms Development has offered not to enter into a purchase and sales agreement with Walmart for at least one year and will instead seek other retailers for the Town Centre portion of the development at the northeast corner of I-94 and Highway 67.

Last year Pabst Farms Development announced plans for a 151,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter store and a 136,000-square-foot Sam’s Club store in the Town Centre area.
Several Oconomowoc residents objected to the Walmart plans. The original plans for the Pabst Farms project, approved by the city in 2008, were for an upscale retail development, but those plans have never come together.

In addition to seeking other retailers than Walmart, Pabst Farms Development is seeking changes to its development site plans to help it attract other retailers.

“This newly requested Pabst Farms amended plan calls for additional acreage to be included in the Town Centre area, increased square footage for the prospective retail anchors, the removal of the monument wall located between the development and I-94 to be replaced with additional landscaping features, and storm water components (that will) be altered to better accommodate the development by replacing underground storage with surface ponds,” Oconomowoc Mayor Jim Daley said. “Negotiations have been on-going for over a year between myself and Pabst Farms. Pabst Farms has shown a recognition that a portion of Oconomowoc has been vocal in their concern over the direction the development has taken. Pabst Farms has indicated that they need the requested changes to their approved Town Centre plan in order to market their property to a wider range of end-users.”

“As various council members and the mayor have asked, Pabst Farms is looking for as many alternative anchor tenants as possible,” said Bell. “A major drawback to our search is the maximum size of the anchor buildings that is simply too small for a number of alternative potential anchors. In order to attract these anchors, it is vital to show those anchors that our commercial center is ‘shovel ready’ with approvals in place for those potential larger buildings.”

“As a result of continued discussions, Pabst (Farms) has offered not to enter into a purchase and sales agreement with Walmart as a tenant to the development for one year, and will re-assert their efforts towards other retailers for the Town Centre area, using their newly approved plan to work towards that goal,” Daley said. “In addition, if after this time period elapses there is a submission in the next three years from Walmart in the Town Centre, Pabst Farms will agree to allow the city’s Common Council to make a determination on whether or not we want those particular retailers in our community at that location and will promise not to pursue any legal retribution to the city for its decision if that determination should go against the developer. Our council and community will have a chance to make the decision on what should be developed without the cloud of legal action hanging over our heads.”

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