Fox Lake continues planning for growth: Land purchase to expand possibilities – WiscNews

FOX LAKE – When the city of Fox Lake set out last summer to purchase 61 acres on the city’s southwest side, Mayor Tom Bednarek said, the reason was simple: The city’s existing industrial park was full.

Already, he said, “People are really interested” in moving in.

It’s all part of an effort that began decades ago to transform the city from a perceived retirement community to a thriving multifaceted community. Recent signs of revitalization are the construction of large apartment complexes, duplexes and single-family homes, expanding industries and retail growth.

The land purchase began when Bednarek and brothers Tom and Mike Meagher discussed selling some of their farmland.

“They approached me in July and said, ‘Let’s sit down and talk,’” Bednarek recalled. “You couldn’t ask for nicer people to deal with. We shot out an offer and they countered on it. We took it to the Redevelopment Authority and the Common Council and they approved it.”

“It’s sad to see farmland go, but it’s exciting to be part of the future of Fox Lake,” said City Administrator Kelly Crombie. “We need some industrial park and some land to develop housing and this provides both.”

Twenty-four residential lots are already plotted for the area. All of the land will be annexed into Fox Lake. The entire area may be added to an existing tax incremental financing district (TIF 3) or to a yet-to-be created TIF 4. TIF 3 includes new businesses on Highway 33 and residential lots north of Highway 33, abutting Fox Lake.

The new industrial park and the old one in TIF 2 are close to each other, nearly touching at the intersection of Highway P and Mill Creek.

The purchase price was $25,000 per acre for a total of $1.5 million, half of what it could have cost elsewhere, Bednarek said. Access is planned from Highway P on the south and Weed Street on the north.

Twenty-one acres will be reserved for industrial development, with a portion set aside for single- and multi-family housing.

Housing is critical, as there is currently only one lot for sale in the city, Bednarek said.

“There’s always a shortage of housing with the businesses we’ve got going. This really is ideal for us,” he said. “We’ve had housing developers approaching us seeking land to build on, so this comes at a good time.”

Crombie agreed that demand for housing is acute, in Fox Lake and elsewhere. “Given our great location and proximity to other communities and jobs, it is a good opportunity,” Crombie said.

Businesses are also looking for help, Bednarek and Crombie said.

“We have at least three existing businesses expanding this year,” Crombie said. “Any vacant land in the old industrial park is spoken for. It’s important that we have land available for anyone new wanting to come in. We’ve got options.”

Purchasing may be expensive, but Bednarek said the benefits outweigh the risks.

“Our forefathers caught a lot of flak for spending all that money when they bought the Meekma Farm for an industrial park in the 1980s,” Bednarek said. “But where would we be now if they hadn’t? I’ll bet we have at least 400 people working in our old industrial park now. Probably more. This is our time to look to the future.”

Once annexation is complete the city will be seeking developers and negotiating contracts. Developer agreements will provide incentives and allow TIF financing to begin building infrastructure such as streets and sewer and water lines.

Get local news delivered to your inbox!