With the redevelopment of the Sun Prairie explosion site under way, another downtown property further east is being eyed for shops, apartments, and restaurants.

The City of Sun Prairie’s recent purchase of the vacant service station at 402 E. Main St. and the house behind it on Vine Street for $312,000 will give the city more control of downtown development, a city official said.

The city has already got a bite from three developers interested in putting a brewpub, apartments and a restaurant on the more than half-acre site, City Development Director Scott Kugler said.

To give residents and downtown business owners a heads-up on the development, Kugler and his staff have been making the rounds meeting with Dewey-Vine Street residents on Oct. 30 and the Business Improvement District (BID) board on Nov. 7.

Kugler said developers will consider what makes financial sense but community feedback will help guide potential projects through the city’s approval process. A tentative city timeline could have a project starting next summer.

Redevelopment projects considered for the site in the past weren’t received well by the neighborhood, Kugler said, so the city wants input before it solicits redevelopment proposals.

“The main purpose the city purchased the property was to get control of what happens moving forward rather than be at the whim of whatever the developer brings in,” Kugler said at last Thursday’s BID meeting.

BID board members’ concerns synched with neighbors, with both groups wanting adequate parking for apartment and condo dwellers, so they won’t crowd out parking for nearby residents and businesses. Kugler said the city ordinance requires one parking spot per bedroom for apartment/condo development.

Kugler said the nearby residents’ biggest angst was over the potential size and scale of the development projects.

In 2017 developer David Baehr proposed a 34-unit apartment project for the site but never filed an application for consideration. Developer Otto Gebhardt’s proposal for a mixed commercial and 25-unit apartment project in 2011 was tabled by the Plan Commission and the applicant withdrew the plan.

BID board members suggested a performance venue or something other than a bar and restaurant to bring people downtown in the evening.

But Kugler said housing is going to be the most economically feasible development for the site and the city won’t have control if it’s rental or condominiums.

The properties are in the city’s downtown tax increment finance (TIF) district and Kugler said developers would likely get TIF assistance.

“In the end, this needs to be an economically feasible project because moving forward, the council needs to be satisfied that it’s covering the TIF investments we’ve already made, and the additional TIF investments we probably will make,” Kugler told BID members.

The developments would also be part of the BID and assessed to support its projects, promotions and events. The 2018 assessed value of property in the BID was $97.3 million, an increase from $73 million from the prior year. There were 80 businesses and 529 residential units in the BID in 2018.

Demolition of the East Main Street and Vine Street site is expected by the end of the year, Kugler said.

A public hearing and neighborhood notification of the potential developments is part of the city’s review process.

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