A long-awaited marketing study from the Vierbich/Voltedge group on the economic corridors in the city was presented to the Community Development Authority on Wednesday night. Findings of the marketing plan thus far was given by Errin Welty and Brandon Rutz of the marketing firm.
The firm had looked at five primary areas, including Racine Avenue Commercial/Muskego Centre; Muskego Business Park; ‘Downtown’ Janesville Road, including Pioneer Drive; Moorland Road; Tess Corners.
Larry Lefebvre, Vice Chairman of the CDA, said his take-away from the findings was that Muskego lacked a specific destination, and needed to develop a corporate business park in order to drive traffic, and thus economic development.
The study also pointed to nearby "New Berlin to develop additional business park acreage at the Racine Avenue interchange and projections for continued residential growth in Muskego and surrounding towns." They felt the proximity of the park could "drive increasing local consumer demand and commuting traffic which will help the retail and service businesses. This local market expansion should benefit area retailers and eventually encourage redevelopment of residential parcels."
The study also found "the Muskego Business Park to be "a well-functioning industrial area, offering a product which is attractive to local and regional businesses. The majority of vacancies exist in multi-tenant spaces which face greater competition elsewhere."
Pioneer Drive, was recognized by the study as representing "Muskego’s historic downtown core," although the declining businesses and mix of private homes was also pointed out. Even so the commentary provided on the area gave some idea that development may provide some return.
"Moving forward, the updated zoning, proposed lakefront park and potential pedestrian and bike connections to the Muskego Recreational Trail provide an opportunity to create a higher density commercial and recreation node in the Pioneer Drive area of Janesville Road."
Moorland Road, not surprisingly, was cited as an emerging area that was a target for significant new investment. "This corridor is also the location recommended for Muskego’s pursuit of a local hotel flag, which would create a balanced regional commercial presence along the corridor," it stated.
Alderman Dan Soltysiak, who is a member on the CDA, said their direction (to the marketing firm) "was how we wanted the recommendation section to be structured - to show return on investment (ROI) benefits for development characteristics (tax revenue, traffic counts, daytime employment, among others) rather than as a priority scale."
"This way the CDA and city can develop estimated costs for the recommendations and decide which will give the best ROI based on the community desires," Soltysiak said.
The study also pointed to a common complaint: the lack of chain restaurants the ilk of an Olive Garden or TGI Fridays, which depend on customers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's hoped that further data will help the city match economic areas with criteria for such establishments in order to get more 'yes' answers from restaurants.
The direction given to Vierbicher will likely result in a more refined plan, and could come back to the CDA as early as their March meeting.
To view the complete report, which is included in the CDA's agenda for Feb. 8, click here.