Plans for the establishment of the Hooper Business Park in the Village of DeForest are taking shape.
The Madison company expects to consolidate its operations and move its headquarters, with approximately 190 onsite employees, to a vacant 50-acre parcel accessible from Hwy. 19.
At the July 16 meeting of the DeForest Village Board’s Committee of the Whole, Hooper representatives updated trustees on the project’s progress, saying that there is the potential to start moving dirt on infrastructure work this year, but that a more realistic start date will come in early 2020.
“We’re thrilled to have you guys as partners,” said Trustee Jason Kramar, who added the Hooper has gone “above and beyond” any other potential partner that has tried to work with the village on the property.
Christopher Gosch, a consultant with Hooper on the project, said there is an executed offer on the site, which is currently owned by Dwight Ziegler and Steve Pederson.
Hooper is a full-service electric power and mechanical contractor that’s been headquartered in Madison since 1913. Discussions regarding the project began earlier this year.
In addition to housing its headquarters on the site, Hooper also anticipates putting its manufacturing and production facilities there as well, with the existing northern portion used for some single-family residential development.
Gosch said Hooper was looking for feedback from the board on what kind of homes village officials would want on the land.
Hooper representatives advanced the notion of townhouses, with a nice front area, parking along the back and landscaped and earth buffers to separate it from the business park.
“Providing that kind of house would be nice, because we struggle with single-family versus multi-family,” said Trustee Jeff Miller.
Fellow Trustee Abigail Lowery said, “I would be fine with townhouses or multi-family condos, from the standpoint of employees who would like to live close by to where they work and having some nice sidewalks throughout that whole development would make it easier and it also cuts down on the transportation in Dane County. We’ve seen people might live on one side of the county and work on the other side. It would be nice to minimize that and/or make something more affordable to the community, because we have an overabundance of single-family construction. It might be good to have an in-between option.”
Gosch said that Hooper is doing its due diligence on the site, which he called an “oddly shaped” lot in Tax Incremental District 7. He also said there was zoning cleanup that had to be done to get the lower portion of the property zoned O-R, for office research, light industrial and business. It is hoped the upper portion would then be zoned RN-2A, for single-family residential.
Gosch also talked about the extensive infrastructure improvements Hooper has committed to doing, including adding a north-south road, installing sanitary sewer and completing a water loop. Improvements would also be made to the nearby intersection of Hwy. 19 and the road, including stoplights and turn lanes.
Storm-water retention and water infiltration are two other issues for Hooper. Gosch said Hooper is working with the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) to comply with regulations. Onsite retention, rain gardens and great water harvesting for individual users are some of the possible strategies Hooper will employ for dealing with storm water.
“We think that siting this here is … it’s incredibly important to Hooper to have this development be something that is sensitive to what the community is looking for, provide a lot of employment, provide a lot of opportunity to showcase their expertise and really make this a very interesting and desirable opportunity for other companies to locate in this park as well,” said Gosch.
Some changes have been made to the original plan. Initially, the headquarters were expected to be located on the east side of the site. Gosch said they will be moved a little further north, with production facilities to the east.
The north-south road Hooper is putting in was originally proposed to be built in two phases. With the relocation of its headquarters, Hooper is now looking to finish all the infrastructure improvements in one phase.
“As long as everyone is out moving dirt, we might as well just finish it up,” said Gosch.
A traffic study for the Hwy. 19 intersection has been done and is currently being reviewed, as Hooper expects some feedback on it from the village and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Gosch also said that a wetlands delineation study was completed and that Hooper will be working with CARPC and the DOT to identify wetlands. The proposed site of the production facility is adjacent to them.
“So, what we have in process now is we’re working through CARPC items, infiltration rates that … a lot of numbers, a lot of calculations, make sure we might all the requirements,” said Gosch. “There’s a developer’s agreement that has been circulated and comments back and forth. We’ve got subdivision restrictions and covenants for the commercial and residential portion that we’re still working through with staff.”
Additionally, Hooper is working with a nearby landowner to gain a portion of their land for the road and trying to figure out the residential components of the project. The developer’s agreement and covenants and restrictions will need approval, as Hooper also works toward the final site and storm-water design, as well as conditional-use permitting.
“We’ve made a lot of progress,” said Gosch. “There’s still a ways to go, but I think we have a good direction here and everyone’s quite comfortable.”
The project also aims to install biking and walking trails to connect with the rest of the community. Underground parking on the site is also being considered. One of the goals of the project is to “create an integrated and sustainable development with varied uses and opportunity for business growth and additional housing options for the community,” according to the project update Hooper put together for village officials.
“I appreciate the conscientious use of the land there, and consideration of underground parking and solar power, possible trail connections, and it looks like a good plan as well,” said Lowery.