November 2, 2007
Work at Business Park Begins
First phase of project under way
By Deneen Smith
Work is under way on PrairieWood Corporate Park in Pleasant Prairie, the first phase of a project that will expand business development in Pleasant Prairie west of Interstate 94.
Earth movers and bulldozers are doing grading work on the project that extends from the interstate west, nearly to Highway U, and south of Highway Q.
The groundwork is readying the site for an approximately 200-acre corporate park. First proposed by WisPark, the real estate arm of Wisconsin Energy, the property was recently sold to Oakbrook, Ill.-based CenterPoint Properties.
Michael Murphy, executive vice president of development for CenterPoint, said the company believes the park will develop into an upscale mix of office, manufacturing and distribution centers. According to county records, the company paid $13.6 million for the property.
CenterPoint has been buying and developing property along the I-94 corridor, including projects in Gurnee, Wadsworth, and Racine. Center-Point also has an ownership stake in LakeView Corporate park through a joint venture with WisPark.
Murphy said the company is especially pleased with the PrairieWood site.
"We think based on the visibility of the site, the access and its proximity to the tollway that this will be a higher end park," Murphy said.
Murphy said CenterPoint will be focusing on marketing the project, especially to com panies currently in Illinois, and said he hopes work will begin on building in the site as early as this summer.
When fully built out, Murphy said, the site could support approximately 200,000 to 400,000-square-feet of office development and 1 to 2 millionsquare-feet of warehouse and manufacturing space. While he said it is difficult to estimate how many jobs are likely to be based in the park because that will depend on the mix of office and warehouse space, Murphy said traffic studies under way for the project are based on an employment base of 2,500 to 3,500 people.
The site is directly south of 500 acres purchased by Abbott Laboratories as a future development site.
WisPark President Jerry Franke said Wisconsin Energy opted to sell PrairieWood as part of an effort to concentrate on core utility operations as the corporation develops its $7 billion Power the Future project, building new power plants including a coal plant in Oak Creek.
Wisconsin Energy has sold a number of its corporate park properties over the past several years, including its earlier joint venture with CenterPoint, a deal that included undeveloped portions of LakeView, and GrandView Corporate Park in Racine County. WisPark also sold the second phase of the Business Park of Kenosha to another developer.
Murphy said CenterPoint is doing the grading on the site in conjunction with Pleasant Prairie. He called the community "a great partner" in creating the development, which is on land the village secured through a boundary agreement with Bristol and through an initiative to draw corporate development and clear the corridor of undesirable businesses including adult bookstores.
Jean Werbie, Pleasant Prairie community development director, said the ground work now under way on the site is part of the village's commitment to ready the land for development through a tax incremental financing district.
She said the grading is "flood plain boundary work" that will change the boundaries of flood plain that meanders through the center of the site, with some flood-prone areas filled while storm water retain areas will be built in other areas of the property.
"It's starting to get the site in development condition," Werbie said.
Work on additional infrastructure, including roads and utilities, will come later.
The village is paying $689,673 for the grading work according to a contract approved by the village in October, money paid through the TIF.
Pleasant Prairie created the TIF west of the interstate in 1999 to help lure development there, with the district paying for improvements like extending sewer and water to the area and changes to the frontage road. Taxes generated through resulting development in the district will be used to pay off bonds issued to pay for TIF improvements.
Property owned in the corporate park by Jockey International is not being included in the site preparation, Werbie said. Kenosha-based Jockey announced in 2001 that it had purchased property in the future park as a site for a new corporate headquarters. A spokeswoman for Jockey said last week the company has no immediate plans to build on the site.
Pictured: Grading equipment works on a large parcel of land west of I-94, recently sold by Wispark. The PrairieWood Corporate Park will expand business development in the village west of Interstate 94. Kenosha News photo by Bill Siel.