In many instances, this project stands out in a crowd of choices. Not the least of which were the challenges faced by those involved. As most of you are keenly aware, just about every project has some sort of challenge. There are physical challenges such as wetlands, endangered resources, environmental corridors, storm water planning, setbacks, topography, proximity to services (or lack thereof), and access. Then, there are financial challenges like supply and demand, changes in the economy, and over-extension. What makes this development a great case study is that all these challenges were experienced.
Assistance with a Private Development
In 2001, the Village of Mukwonago reached out to Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. (R/M) for assistance with a private development. The frontage of the property was along STH 83 with commercial in the front and higher density residential in the rear. The owner sold the property to the first developer and a few years later, in 2005, a Certified Survey Map (CSM) and four commercial lots were created. As part of this, a storm water management plan was developed and much of the property was left in an outlot for future development. Due to the proximity of the pond to the marsh, the property ran across a host of environmental concerns (read delays), not the least of which included the Blanding’s turtle nesting habitat.
Enter a Second Developer
As part of the CSM, the existing sanitary system was extended as far as it could go, so further future development of the property would require a sanitary lift station. In 2006, a second developer approached the Village about developing the remaining portion of the property. Concepts galore flowed through until one was finally chosen and approved. However, financing for the project wavered as lift station costs were incorporated into the project. Access to the station was a major hold up. In the end, an easement was obtained through the adjacent town lands. This delayed the project further and it was soon over budget. It’s now 2007, and with project funding tight, construction is underway. Unfortunately, funding runs dry as winter closes in.
The Bank Gets Involved
When a project is in foreclosure, there is a transition period where no one owns the property and the court is in control. During this transition, there was no one responsible to uphold any of the permit and agreement conditions. At some point, the bank became the owner and things slowly progressed. As the 3rd developer, they introduced more changes to make the project more cost effective. It’s now 2009, and as you may recall the economy was less than vibrant. The bank made some improvements and later sold to a 4th developer who of course makes some modifications including a name change and eventually completes the project in 2017.
The big lesson learned is to avoid carving up developments to the point where they aren’t cost effective. As a community, that can be difficult to identify. Phasing larger projects to avoid unusual circumstances like what happened at The Glen of Mukwonago can certainly help.
This kind of analysis and planning comes with experience. Getting down into the weeds and reviewing the minute details of a project can sometime blind you from the bigger picture issues at hand. Ask yourself a few "what if" scenarios when reviewing your next development plans.
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About the Author
Christopher M. Genellie, P.E., CPESC
Senior Project Manager
Chris is an expert in site development and storm water management. His start in site development and storm water management began in 1996 when he began performing reviews of private development plans for local municipal subdivisions and commercial developments. An understanding of the State and local design and code requirements is an absolute must. This understanding and knowledge of the ever changing regulations has benefited Chris when preparing site development plans and storm water management plans for Ruekert & Mielke, Inc.’s municipal and private clients.