What's News in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
PLANS PROGRESS FOR VILLAGE GREEN CENTER AND TWO BUSINESS INCUBATOR PROJECTS AIMED AT GROWING LOCAL COMPANIES
VILLAGE GREEN CENTER
As part of fostering a sense of identity for the Village, planning originally began in 1994 for a “downtown” style Village center that would become a destination location. The project was given the name Village Green Center.
In the late 1990s, planning was put on hold until residential growth could accommodate a retail-based community center. In late 2007, planning resumed. The first of three café-style planning sessions was held in November 2007. Over 125 participants gathered to share their vision for a Village Green Center. Throughout 2008 and 2009 community planners and the developer of the property have continued work on plans for the Village center but at a slower pace due to the impacts of the recent economic recession.
With the development planning process nearing an end, it is expected that the developer will soon be ready to share final plans with the community at a third public meeting. In addition to incorporating ideas discussed during the first two community input sessions, certain new ideas have been incorporated into the plans.
NEW IDEAS INCORPORATED INTO PLAN
Planners have embraced the idea of incorporating economically and environmentally sustainable features to enhance the attractiveness and long-term value of the area. Because no infrastructure currently exists at the location, the Village has the opportunity to install certain features in a more cost effective manner.
If all goes well, the Village Center will employ geothermal technologies for snow removal and de-icing. Streets and sidewalks in the downtown area could potentially be heated to melt snow and ice. Benefits to using such a system include: reduced snow removal costs; reduced use of salt and de-icing agents; and easy “no snow” access to retailers during winter weather months.
The area is currently undergoing testing to determine if the technology is feasible at the location. The Village is also investigating other sustainable features that can easily, cost effectively and attractively be incorporated into the Village Green Center design.
LOOKING TOWARDS ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY
In light of the global economic conditions that have presented themselves over the past two years, the Village has intensified its focus on the longer view for economic development. The early stage development of a downtown area, along with proximity to a wealth of knowledge-based resources, has lent itself to a new opportunity for the Village Green Center. As part of a major cooperative effort with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA), plans are being developed for a project called the Southeast Wisconsin Innovation Center. Near the end of 2009, KABA and the Village began planning for a 40,000 square foot innovation center and business incubator to be built within the Village Green Center.
Plans call for a multi-tenant building that will be leased to start-up firms in the life science and related industries. The facility will initially include office, lab, flexible and research and development space for roughly 15 early-stage businesses. It will offer shared support services and technical assistance for incubator tenants. The project is part of a broader, regional effort to leverage the resources within a six-County area in order to foster the growth of new, innovative companies throughout Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. KABA and the Village will draw on the region’s life science industry and educational resources to offer professional resources and guidance to the new companies.
KABA and the Village have submitted an application for investment assistance to the Federal Economic Development Administration. In addition to the Federal investment, the Village and KABA would commit to assisting with funding for the project. The State would contribute a portion towards the project, and private funding will be pursued.
A response to the request is expected this spring. If approved for funding, construction of the project could begin during the spring of 2010. Construction is expected to take approximately one year, which could make the facility operational during the spring of 2011.
SPRINGBROOK INNOVATION CENTER
Work is scheduled to begin later this spring on a separate small business incubator project at the former Midwest Copier Property. Purchased by the Pleasant Prairie Community Development Authority at the end of 2009, plans to redevelop the property were announced in January of this year.
During May and June, work will begin to remove a portion of the paved parking lot at the site, and restoration of a stream that used to run along the property will follow in June. Restoration of the stream will help alleviate recurring flooding in the area. Work on the interior of the building to accommodate small, start-up business tenants and off-season storage for public works equipment will follow.
The Village now expects to hear in April whether grant funding was approved for the stream restoration component of the project. The organizational framework for the development of the business incubator will be complete later this year.
To see a PDF of the Village Green Plan shown in the image above, please click "View PDF" below.
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