Greenfield wants to put parking lot into gear

City tries to find out what market favors for land

June 19, 2012

Greenfield - With Greenfield's acquisition of a Milwaukee County park-and-ride lot perhaps happening next year, the Community Development Authority would like to find out what the market thinks the land could become.

The CDA is contemplating hiring a consultant to do a marketing study that will indicate the most likely use of that land and the whole area around it, based on current and future market conditions.

The area in question is basically where Interstate 43 and Loomis Road meet. It lies east of Loomis, north of I-43 and south of Cold Spring Road.

A large part of the study area, called Greenfield Crossing, is the 16- to 17-acre park-and-ride lot, said Chuck Erickson, economic development and planning director.

Market evaluation

The city is thinking about buying the lot to control what is developed there, Erickson said.

The CDA last week discussed hiring a Maryland firm to explore development possibilities, but instead called on the city's staff to also gather proposals from other firms, so that the CDA has a choice of consultants.

While some officials were thinking of a hotel or office buildings, "Our notion of what we may want there and what the market can support is an open-ended question," Erickson said. Hence the desire for a market study, he said.

The land appears in the city's comprehensive plan as being for planned mixed uses.

Too-quick action?

But spending money on a market study might be premature, Mayor Michael Neitzke said.

He would rather wait until the city has a solid agreement with the state Department of Transportation about sale of the land, Neitzke said. He also would rather wait for evidence that the construction market is actually reviving in general before investing in a study, he said.

Similarly, he advising that the city move slowly in its plans to acquire the land. Ideally, Neitzke said he would like to see the city do something with the land reasonably quickly after the purchase.

"It would be bad to sit on it because we have to pay for it," he said.

Neitzke said the city should be in a good position to hold off because the state normally only sells such excess land to the municipalities in which they sit, and it costs nothing for the DOT to hold the land.

"I want to see taxpayers well represented and be sure (the development is) in our best interests," Neitzke said.

New development attempt

The study area is about the same land that was eyed for a redevelopment that was dropped after many thought the city planned to use eminent domain to assemble properties for a project. That was never their intention, officials said, but the project was nonetheless dropped after an uproar in 2010.

"The effort here is not intended in any stretch of the imagination to revisit that topic," Erickson said.

Meanwhile, the city last year acquired a factory and a home badly damaged by fire in the redevelopment area. Both owners wanted to sell, Erickson said, and both structures were razed.

There was serious thought about selling the two properties, but the city held onto them because they provide good access to the state property, Neitzke said.

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