Meijer site plan for Schneider property (2019)

The map shows a Meijer Foods store accessed from a private drive and the extension of Blue Aster Boulevard. Drawings on the map show a nearby fuel station near the intersection of the private drive and South Thompson Road.

A new ft Meijer store and fuel center will be constructed on the Schneider property just off Thompson Road, along with other retailers, beginning in 2020 thanks to an agreement approved Nov. 5 by the Sun Prairie City Council.

Alders approved an option and development agreement with Sun Prairie Partners LLC for development on publicly owned land, but materials distributed to alders before the meeting included a map of a Meijer store with a gas station/convenience component.

According to a staff memo, in late 2016, the City of Sun Prairie negotiated the purchase of approximately 40 acres, known as the Schneider Property, from Mart Enterprises. The land was purchased for the purpose of locating a regional stormwater facility on a portion of the property.

In late 2017, staff began working with KH Properties LLC (“Developer”) on an Option to Purchase for the Schneider Property at $200,000/acre. At that time the city had a preferred stormwater facility location, however, its location was not ideal for commercial development. As a result, staff engaged in negotiations with the Developer over pond location, costs, and other points of development.

In early 2019, the developer secured a contract with an anchor tenant, prompting the creation of the proposed Conditional Option Agreement. Staff continued to negotiate designs and acreage of the stormwater facility with the Developer. In closed session at the Sept. 17 Committee of the Whole Meeting, city staff received direction on the final cost allocations of the stormwater facility, other public improvements, and the Option and Development Agreement.

The agreement calls for Sun Prairie Partners to construct public roads located within the Schneider property, including the extensions of Blue Aster Boulevard and South Mallard Drive, as well as any accompanying infrastructure.

“Excited, happy,” remarked Jeff Hundley, representing Sun Prairie Partners, after the meeting. “It’s been a long time. We’ve been working on this for about 18 months.”

Hendrik Meijer in 1934 opened the first Meijer store in his barber shop in Greenville, Mich. Today, Meijer remains a privately-owned and family-operated company with more than 245 stores and employs more than 70,000 team members in six Midwestern states.

According to the company website, Meijer is more than just the pioneer of the “one-stop shopping” concept — it includes more than 220,000 products and 600 types of fresh produce, a pharmacy with clinical services, home delivery services and supporting the communities where its customers and team members work and live by donating more than 6 percent of net profits to charity each year, and sponsoring hundreds of community events.

Next steps in the process include a certified survey map, preliminary and final development plans, zoning map amendments, approvals from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as well as the Department of Natural Resources and an easement from Menards to facilitate the storm water plan. The city will be responsible for the construction of a regional storm water facility on both the Livesey and Schneider properties that serves the west side and extension of Blue Aster Boulevard to the Schneider property with money already escrowed by Menards.

Hundley did not mention any plans for the buildings in his remarks after the Nov. 5 meeting, but said he did lay out a timeline for the start of the project.

“The pond, the infrastructure we’ll be putting out for bid in January. In February, we’ll start construction, weather permitting on all the infrastructure,” Hundley said. “In April or May we’ll finish all the site work and then we’ll kind of go from there.”

The deal nearly three years in the making will include Meijer.

“One of our users is Meijer. And depending on timeframe, we’ll probably know more next year as far as the timing of the store and the fuel center,” Hundley said. “And we’ve got a bunch of other users, you know, we’ve got a lot of land to develop there — we’ve got 10 to 12 outlots and seven acres next to Meijer for retail, that’s usually strip retail . . . or a single big box. Maybe a couple of medium boxes.”

Most of the outlet users are usually single user retailers, but they could also include multiple users, according to Hundley, such as fast food restaurants or financial institutions.

Was there any part of the deal that was more complicated than the others?

“You know, we’ve never had a deal where we’re buying the land from the city and turning it around and developing an 11 acre retention pond that benefits 800 acres,” Hundley said. “So it’s a very, very complicated deal. But staff was just wonderful, really good to work with. It’s very complex — the most complicated deal I’ve had to work with.

According to the staff memo to alders, contingencies as laid out in the agreement are to be completed prior to closing with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2020. Closing on the property is scheduled to occur on Jan. 31, 2020. If all goes as planned, the City of Sun Prairie will realize a net surplus from the land sale of $645,000.

The development was not without its detractors.

In addition to previous on-the-record statements from Chad Fedler of Prairie Lakes, former mayor Joe Chase during the Nov. 5 meeting reminded the council of the historical value associated with the Schneider-Thompson home that currently sits on the property.

Chase said he wanted Hundley and Meijer officials to know that the home could still be moved to the lot in front of the Sun Prairie Utilities substation (watch all of Chase’s remarks with the online version of this story at sunprairiestar.com). In the past, city elected officials including the Sun Prairie City Council have taken a hands-off approach to the home, leaving up to private entities to move and/or preserve it.

Despite the concern for the home, a memo to the council indicates no interest in either preserving or purchasing the home: “Staff continues to field interest regarding the Schneider House. However, after several site visits with interested parties and moving companies, no proposals have been received by the city to relocate the house. Staff will continue to work with any interested parties until the property is sold to the developer, at which point any further negotiations will be handled by the developer. If the house is not moved, removal of the existing buildings will be the responsibility of the developer.”

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