Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:23 pm
Lakefront, I-94 see major projects pending
Sheboygan is poised for major development in two areas — along the lakefront and in the I-43 corridor.
The C. Reiss Coal property, a 50-acre peninsula between the mouth of the Sheboygan River and Lake Michigan, was purchased by the city in October for $2 million. The city is currently seeking proposals for soil remediation and from developers to turn the former coal-storage facility into a convention hotel and multi-use development.
City officials hope the 50-acre site will be worth $40 million after an investment of $8 million to $10 million to remediate the site and undertake other work.
The project will benefit from more than $4.5 million in grants and loans from state, federal and local entities ranging from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Grants include a $1.1 million brownfields grant from the Department of Commerce, $500,000 from the HUD Economic Development Initiative, a $135,000 DNR Stewardship grant through the Urban Rivers Grant Program, $162,000 from the Department of Administration’s Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and $2.4 million interest-free loan from the DNR.
An additional $500,000 was raised by a loosely-formed entity called Friends of Sheboygan. Members of the group, headed up by businessman Mike Muth, pledged money to make the project a reality.
Schuchardt parcel in limbo
Located between I-43 and Taylor Drive in Sheboygan, the 200-acre parcel owned by John Schuchardt has been the subject of an annexation battle between the city and town of Sheboygan. Schuchardt wants annexation to the city so he can get utility services to his land and develop it, perhaps mirroring the mass retail across Taylor Drive.
According to Schuchardt’s attorney, Peter Mayer of the Sheboygan law firm Rohde, Dale, utilities are currently available through the town, and the site is salable and developable as-is.
"Portions of the property have been developed in the past," Mayer said, noting that much of the commercial development across Taylor Drive was on land that had earlier been annexed by the city. "I don’t see a problem with developing the property either in the town or the city."
According to town of Sheboygan attorney Mike Bauer of the Sheboygan law firm Hopp, Powell, Bauer, the fact that the property includes frontage on the Sheboygan River and one of its tributaries is a factor in its annexation status.
"The property was in fact annexed by the city," Bauer said. "The annexation took place because the town did not grant the rezoning that would have allowed development. But there were some technical errors in the annexation, and the town challenged it and got the property back."
The town’s reticence to rezone the parcel, according to Bauer, stemmed from the fact that development plans did not appear to address the environmental factors presented by the water resources on the site. But Bauer stressed that the town is willing to work with Schuchardt on rezoning given the submission of suitable plans.
Elsewhere in the city, retail is center stage according to director of development Jacqueline Jarvis.
Tom Schafer’s Bayside Development is planning to either renovate or completely raze and rebuild the Northgate shopping center at 1341 Mayflower Ave., according to Jarvis.
"The central north side of the city has no major grocery or shopping center," Jarvis said, implying that Schafer is considering a grocery store for the location.
Schafer, however, stressed that any plans for Northgate are very preliminary.
"These deals are very fickle," Schafer said. "Getting anything to happen at this site will require the cooperation of a number of people, and as yet we do not have that cooperation."
Much of the development taking place in recent years in Shegoygan consists of retail and restaurants.
"Retail has been strong over the past 10 years," Jarvis said. "It has not been growing at the same rate as Appleton, but retailers coming here are reaping profits greater than what they expected."
Jarvis pointed out, for instance, that the Sheboygan Applebee’s is the most successful in the state.
That success comes despite the fact that Sheboygan’s greatest asset — the lakefront — reduces its potential. Much of what would normally be part of its market area is underwater.
"We can’t go any further east — we only have half a ring," Jarvis said.
As a result, the city is concentrating on developing business parks and mass retail along I-43 and its frontage roads, while positioning its downtown as an office and specialty retail district.
"We are trying to foster the growth of the downtown and not fight the trends," Jarvis said.
February 1, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee