Poised for growth: Prairie Lakes developers still dreaming big in Sun Prairie
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It’s also a consideration that feeds into the company’s long-term goals.
“We would like to bring an element of fashion into Prairie Lakes, whether it be a department store or whether it be the type of fashion users you would see in a mall that are not necessarily located on the east side of Madison, a JoS. A. Bank, a J.Jill, or a Talbots. And as we continue to build out with the bigger users and then start filling in with the smaller multitenant space, like the Starbucks and those kind of users, all of a sudden that starts to attract attention.”
Location, location, location
Of course, much has been made of Marcus Theatres’ decision to locate on the Prairie Lakes site instead of in the city of Madison. While Fedler is careful not to wade too deeply into the ongoing intercity controversy over the merits of building in Madison versus surrounding communities, he does note that Sun Prairie provided a welcoming environment for his company’s development.
“Where else can you go where you can drop off your application and have your approvals in six to seven weeks, and you can be in the ground if you have all your engineering done, etc., within two months?” asked Fedler. “That’s pretty amazing. I mean, Marcus was approved, I think it was seven weeks, and Costco might have taken a little bit longer because there were a few little tweaks to the buildings, but it was eight or nine. That’s a big deal.”
But while Fedler no doubt saw the opportunity to work with Sun Prairie as a plus, the siting of the development primarily followed changes in the built environment – and in that respect, the company had the expertise of a real estate savant in partner Jerry Conner.
“For fun, Jerry likes to find real estate,” said Fedler. “When he goes on a vacation, he goes places and looks at real estate. And I don’t care where he is. You could send him to Seattle and within three hours he’ll be in a real estate office someplace looking at real estate – on vacation. That’s what he does.
“So when [Ron] and Jerry learned about this interchange going in, they saw the possibilities there.”
While Fedler fairly exudes confidence, you could forgive him if he still feels buffeted by the ill economic winds of the past several years. Today, Prairie Lakes is about 40% built out, but if you’d asked him in 2006 where the development would be by now, he would have likely said fully built and up and running (if not sprinting). Of course, everyone’s expectations changed with the abrupt popping of the real estate bubble in 2008, and commercial developers were among the hardest hit.
With recent indications that the economy may be finding firmer footing, particularly in the real estate sector, the future would appear to be brighter for Prairie Lakes. Perhaps the biggest indication that the area was poised to become a commercial powerhouse was the recent construction of a monstrous Woodman’s grocery store – visible to traffic from U.S. 151 – just east of the development. (While Woodman’s is not officially part of Fedler’s and Connery’s development, as an anchor retailer, it pulls considerable weight and is seen as a welcome addition.)