Walworth County development


Demand strong for East Troy project; Elkhorn sees land availability tighten

Andy Bruce of MLG Commercial said the company is involved in a multi-use business park in East Troy at I-43 and Highway 219.
"The park encompasses 240 acres in two phases," Bruce said. "There are 160 acres involved in the first phase, with about 80 acres combined business park land and commercial land. The second phase will be 80 acres, and will follow in a few years.
"We’ve already closed two sales in the park. Modern Fence, a manufacturer and distributor of fencing and decorative fencing moved from another community. There is also a multi-tenant building built by CDI Construction. The users for this building have not yet been announced – but they will be light industrial."
The space in the first phase should go fast, according to Bruce.
"We’ve got interest in the park from a number of other light industrial and professional companies," he said. "We also have 40 acres of commercially developable land in that park. We have sites that would be appropriate for fast food and hotel."
Work has already begun in the park, as roads and utilities have been extended to the site, and Bruce said some of the commercial properties will be developed in the very near term.
George Martin, a consultant to the Elkhorn Development Corp., said that while things are slowing in the city’s industrial park, commercial development is picking up on Highway 67 on the city’s north side.
"We are running out of land – the supply of land is diminishing," Martin said. "We’re taking a good hard look at how we’re going to develop the balance of the vacant property. We’ve been pretty strong in use of TIF funds as incentives for business to come in. We will still use that, but may use different logic on how the funds should be used. We’ll be looking for professional skill level jobs and develop a little more commercial on Highway 67."
Covenants tightening
The industrial park, which started with 262 acres, has 77.7 acres remaining. The protective covenants in place are loose enough to allow metal buildings given brick construction facing the street, but enforcement has been lax in past years.
"Our covenants are pretty darn tight regarding the type of building, the amount of brick and landscaping," Martin said. "They could be tightened further. Short of redoing all the covenants, we’re going to be enforcing the covenants much more tightly than in the past. Buildings constructed in the last three years have met covenant requirements. In the past, we might have overlooked some of the details."
Martin said the development organization is creating a committee to target specific industries.
"We know the parameters under which we want to approach businesses," he said. "We know what we want for our commercial sector, and that would be professional offices. We can develop commercially along Highway 67 to a depth of two lots in."
Martin said he also expects new development along Highway 11 on the east side of town.
Tourism king
in Lake Geneva
In Lake Geneva, development activity is leaning hard in the direction of the tourism industry that drives the local economy. According to George Hennerly of the Lake Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce, the tourism industry has a measurable, beneficial effect on the community.
"Lake Geneva and Walworth County generate $275 million in retail sales annually," Hennerly said. "One fourth of our workforce is employed in the service industry.
"Approximately 40% of our total assessed value is attributable to tourism. Tourism has a minimal impact on infrastructure and schools, and all of the amenities available to our visitors are available to us on a yearlong basis. Tourism is the third leg on our Wisconsin – and particularly Walworth County – economy stool, along with manufacturing and agriculture. They’re all important."
Major Lake Geneva activity includes a Home Depot at Highway 50 on the east side of town. The new store should be ready to open this summer, according to Hennerly. Many other developments are directly related to the tourism economy.
Mill Creek, a hotel development of 100 units, will soon open next to the downtown, one block from the lake, Hennerly said.
In the nearby Town of Lyons, Geneva Crossings, a large condo hotel with 220 units, is under construction, and should be ready for visitors in the fall of 2001.
At the Grand Geneva resort at Highways 50 and I-43, construction is under way on additional time-share units and a 200-unit condo-resort with an indoor waterpark recreation area.
At the juncture of highways 120 and 12, Hennerly said a previous strip mall has been redeveloped and is "now quite quickly filling it up. Aurora Health Care consolidated a number of operations in part of the strip mall. The potential expansion may include a grocery store and a number of other retailers."
The existing retail hub at Highway 50 and I-43 are also seeing growth.

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