Jan 18, 2014

Development on the move on Milton’s east side

Excerpted from Janesville Gazette
By Neil Johnson

“Development Mania” might be an overstatement, but Milton City Administrator Jerry Schuetz said he’s seen a recent jump in interest from companies seeking to build or expand in the business park along the new Highway 26 bypass.

In the four months since the bypass was completed, the city has entered into talks with six commercial and industrial developers eyeing parcels along the bypass, Schuetz said.

At a time when construction of new commercial properties seems to be picking up throughout the area—particularly along the Highway 14/Highway 26 corridor on Janesville’s north end, Milton is starting to feel the local economic pulse quicken.

Right now, Schuetz said, the city has at least three local companies eying land for business expansions in the 400-acre Crossroads Business Park, which extends from the Highway 59/Highway 26 Bypass corridor north along Janesville Street on the city’s east side.

Add that to the city’s ongoing study and recruitment effort for a potential hotel where the new bypass bends east around Milton and a handful of prospects for commercial development in that same area.

When the Highway 26 bypass opened to traffic, the city’s phone lines began ring with developers at the other end, Schuetz said. That could be a sign of economic recovery, but Schuetz believes it’s also because a major arterial roadway that was torn up for months is now completed and reconfigured.

People can see how the new alignment of Highway 26 operates and how it connects to undeveloped portions of the city, including the Crossroads Business Park.

“It’s all in 3-D now. What I see, now, from my perspective, is recognition that commerce in the region is really well-positioned because of Highway 26 and Highway 14—state highways where there is an awful lot of traffic.” Schuetz said.

Traffic estimates from the DOT suggest between 16,000 and 19,000 cars a day pass Milton on the bypass.

“In Milton, that presents new opportunities. The roadway is repositioned. People want to be there. They want to be where the cars are going and coming,” Schuetz said.

“The phone is ringing, now. And when it does, it’s not surprising when it’s a developer. It’s getting to be that City Hall staff all knows their (developers’) names because of the frequency with which they’re calling. They dial in to me and say, ‘Jerry, this one’s important,’” Schuetz said.

One surprise, Schuetz said, is the uptick in Milton business seeking land in the Crossroads Business Park to expand. That interest has come since the bypass opened, he said.

Schuetz argues that a few projects recently completed or in the works might be driving interest in new developments.

He said investors and companies are perking up over new developments in Milton, such as the Parker YMCA, a $4 million privately funded facility completed last fall.

This fall, a former manufacturing facility on Plumb Street on the city’s east side will house Blackhawk Technical College’s new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center.

Schuetz said industries looking to develop in Milton are taking notice of the new training center because it would provide a nearby supply of specialized, trained workers.

“That (the manufacturing training center) is a big boost for the region, but it’s huge for Milton. You talk to industrial developers, and it’s exactly what they’re looking for.” Schuetz said. “It’s something that really sets us apart from our competition.”

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