The Midwestern economy is resurging and the push for shovel-ready tracks of land for new building construction is real. As the economy improves, municipalities are taking steps to position their communities to attract new businesses or retain and expand existing businesses. A primary positioning strategy is to proactively plan for, and develop, land into business parks that are shovel-ready for prospective buyers. Municipalities can experience the benefits of business parks such as: diversifying its tax base, creating local jobs, supporting existing businesses, and creating housing demand.
There are many aspects involved to plan for, design, fund, and construct a new business park. These activities may be led by the municipality directly or may involve a public/private partnership approach with a developer.
A community’s business park may range in size from 25 acres to 600 acres or more and requires a sizable block of contiguous land that meets certain characteristics. During preliminary siting, the following are some key characteristics that should be evaluated:
- Soil type.
- Transportation access.
- Sewer/water service.
- Gas/electric/fiber service.
Upon identifying one or more candidate parcels of land, schematic layout of utilities, roads, and storm water ponds can be performed that accommodate the desired land use designations. Infrastructure cost estimates can be prepared and initial Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plans developed. This gives the municipality a feel for the cost and benefit of the potential business park development.
The municipality may purchase options on the land and continue with a further level of due diligence. Furthering along things such as:
- Geotechnical investigations.
- Completing wetland delineations.
- Discussing the project concept with regulatory agencies.
- Investigating for the cost to implement gas/electric/fiber optic services.
At this point, the municipality may be further along in securing an anchor tenant to justify the creation of a TID and kick-start the final designs for infrastructure. Infrastructure designs done properly will be viewed with a big picture, long-term, mindset setting up the business park and adjacent lands for immediate service, but also accommodating future expansions to meet ultimate growth demands. Often it is advantageous to collaborate during design with the anchor tenant so that grading and earthwork type activities are coordinated.
The infrastructure construction can be phased so that the municipality isn’t overbuilding lands for which there aren’t yet committed tenants. Interim and master grading plans are useful tools to manage the earthwork on the lands to have material available to grade certain sites to building pad elevations. Phased infrastructure installations allow the municipality to strategically time the competitive bidding environment and to better match the cash flows for the TID or other funding mechanisms.
Stay tuned for our next article to see how the Village of Mukwonago took proactive steps to create a 115-acre business park, in 2017, that already has several committed tenants constructing their business there today.
Business Park Readiness: Organizing Your Infrastructure Planning to be Build-Ready
Our expert presenter will provide an overview of the common challenges experienced through the development of six recent business parks in Wisconsin. Attend this webinar to get ahead of the game through proactive planning so that your next park is ready for business.
About the Author
Ryan T. Amtmann, P.E.
Ryan joined the Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. (R/M) team in 2007. He has worked as a Project Manager and Project Engineer on municipal projects, including wastewater collection and conveyance system design, storm water management and facility design, water main design, site development, development review and general municipal consultation and planning.