Sun Prairie Development: Prairie Lakes’ Ship will Hoist Two Anchors, Page 2

An aerial shot of the Prairie Lakes development with the locations of key area stores.

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Adjacent Anchor
Across Highway C, adjacent to but not actually in the Prairie Lakes development boundaries, is a 20-acre parcel owned by Woodman’s Markets, a regional traffic generator. At this point, Woodman’s plans are a point of conjecture, but Fedler cited 2012 for a possible opening. “If we start seeing dirt being moved next year, then that’s actually the case because I would estimate they have a one-year build time,” he said.

As a regional draw, Woodman’s also would bring even more traffic to Prairie Lakes. “They have a 30- to 60-mile range,” Connery said, “so they will draw a lot of people. They will also be a competitor because they have some commercial, but we’re not worried about that. We get along well with them.”

With zoning already established, and with storm-water management, most road and utility infrastructure and landscaping already added to the site, the approval process for prospective stores now involves the development of a precise implementation plan, which essentially is a detailed site plan that would be reviewed by the Plan Commission and the City Council.

Thanks to the groundwork that has been done, it’s a relatively fast process. After its theater project fell through in Madison, it took Marcus just a few weeks to get the requisite approvals in Sun Prairie.

“We spent money doing that so when businesses open up here, we aren’t moving hundreds of thousands of tons of dirt around them to disrupt them,” Connery said. “We want to make sure everything is as easy as possible, so when they are up and running, they can stay up and running.”

In addition, recent road improvements will bring more traffic to Prairie Lakes. Hoepker Road has been expanded from two to four lanes, which has freed traffic movement in and out of the American Center. “That road construction makes a big difference,” Connery said. “Coming from the American Center, anyone can come from that park over here in a short time. It’s only one-mile in distance.”

Reiner Road and Highway C have been connected, sending traffic all the way down to Highways 12 and 18, something the Wisconsin Department of Transportation had wanted to get traffic off the Interstate, Connery said.

Head East
Prairie Lakes is well positioned to take advantage of surrounding growth. Fedler believes many people go to the west side to shop because a lot of those stores aren’t on the east side, and people would stay closer to home if some of those same stores were on the east side.

“Initially, everybody wanted to be on the west side when it comes to retailers,” he noted. “When you look at the demographics, however, there is a very, very small disparity between the east side and west side incomes. We’re talking roughly $1,000 per household.

“When you look at Madison’s future growth, the majority is to the north and east. There is little to the west because they are out of room.”

Connery and Fedler also are developing West Prairie Village, which runs along Main Street in Sun Prairie. Even though the housing component is starting to pick up, commercial interests are waiting for economy to fire on all cylinders. “We own both sides of Main Street for a half-mile stretch,” Connery noted, “but until the economy changes, it’s probably going to be sitting.”

Prairie Lakes is the more immediate concern, and anchors notwithstanding, the course of development could still take several more twists and turns. “One planner told us that our site plan will change 100 times,” Fedler said. “When you add it up, it’s changed about 55 times. This is about the 55th revision over the course of a year and one half, and it will change again.”

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