WEDC-Certified South Pointe Business Park Circulates Growth in the Bicycle Capital of America
Written by Matt Morrow, PE, MSA Professional Services
The City of Sparta is the self-proclaimed “Bicycle Capital of America” and a burgeoning locale for tourism and commercial growth. Already home to several international business headquarters and situated along a busy interstate that channels through the unique “Driftless Area” of Wisconsin, Sparta recognized its prime location for growth and an opportunity to diversify its offerings, boost commerce, create jobs, and become a destination community for new families.
The City purchased a 180-acre parcel of land adjacent to I-90 and STH 27 and partnered with MSA Professional Services, Inc. (MSA) to study development opportunities, review existing conditions, draft concept plans, and create designs for what would ultimately become South Pointe Business Park. Yet, the development of the park needed more than simple property acquisition, subdivision and sale. It needed to expand its offerings and create an effective marketing plan in order to be regionally competitive.
Project partners asked themselves, “What infrastructure can be provided to reduce undue cost burdens for buyers? What new or unique technologies can be used to market parcels and introduce newcomers to the community? What can we do to prove the highest standards of compliance, quality and development readiness to potential buyers?” The answer was multi-fold.
For park infrastructure, the City would invest in, construct and provide as included with the purchase, one common, integrated, city-owned and maintained stormwater management system for all new business park occupants. In addition to maximizing individual parcel usage, this also relieves business owners of the need to implement or budget for their own individual systems and eliminates long-term maintenance and systems-related expenses. Integrating a holistic stormwater retention system required careful consideration of existing and potential uses of the property and needed to be designed to meet a variety of unknowns–such as the size of incoming businesses, building footprints and building run-off quantities.
To aid with the marketing and selling of South Pointe parcels, MSA geographic information systems (GIS) experts developed a publicly shareable Story Map, which presents critical business park information via an interactive online platform developed through ArcGIS Online. Attributes such as municipal boundaries, parcel size and locations, sale and availability status, and a 3D tour allow users to virtually step into the business park project and explore the possibilities from a real-life vantage. The Story Map site also provides demographical and statistical data about the greater Sparta community, travel time to the business park from surrounding areas, and includes video testimonials from existing local businesses and residents about why people should consider moving to and investing in the City of Sparta.
To prove quality and project readiness, the City and MSA consulting engineers planned, designed and implemented a construction strategy with the goal of becoming a Certified in Wisconsin development-ready site, as declared by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). South Pointe Business Park successfully attained this designation. This provides added assurance to potential buyers that all key business park reviews, documents, permits and assessments required for industrial use are in place, strictly adhered to and of the highest standards of excellence. WEDC certification equates to ease of development, quick approvals and low-risk acquisition, a recognition given to only 21 sites in Wisconsin to date.
Phase I of the business park project commenced design in 2016, and Phase II, which commenced in 2018, has recently been completed–adding eight shovel-ready parcels ranging from 2-8 acres.
The result is the attractive and sought-after South Pointe Business Park, with available lots ranging in size from 1 ½ to 80 acres, four of which have sold and are already occupied with over $20,000,000 in construction revenue. The park continues to infuse new business energy into the community, with an economic ripple effect boosting commerce in the city’s existing Eastside Business Park, downtown area and five active TIF districts. The City of Sparta celebrated the park’s grand opening on September 24, 2018.
About the Guest Blogger
Matt Morrow is a professional engineer providing complete infrastructure design and construction management services for a wide variety of public and private clients. He has managed projects that include urban and rural roadways, water distribution, wastewater collection, storm water drainage systems, water treatment facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, redevelopment of city infrastructure and development of new urban and rural subdivisions. Morrow has worked for MSA Professional Services since 1989.
MSA Professional Services, Inc. (MSA) is a 100% employee-owned, full-service multidisciplinary consulting firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Based in 17 offices across Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, MSA partners with clients to help solve today’s complex and multi-faceted infrastructure challenges and specializes in the sustainable development of communities.