Antioch is proceeding with the $1 million purchase of 50 vacant acres south of Route 173 and east of Route 83 with the goal of creating a significant development.
Village officials say they have been watching what is known as the Boylan property north of Grimm Road for several years. It is strategically located near two major roads and is one of few large parcels adjacent to the village capable of generating "greatly increased" economic activity, officials said.
"This is actually a pretty aggressive approach to stimulate economic development," Mayor Larry Hanson said. "Our biggest hurdle is the competitiveness from the state of Wisconsin."
Last June, the board agreed to pursue a contract, but it wasn't until this past week that the official ordinance was approved, with a closing date set for March 15. The village borrowed the purchase price plus expenses by issuing debt certificates with a 20-year term, Village Administrator Jim Keim said.
The property had been the subject of plans to annex and develop with commercial uses, but nothing materialized and the price dropped substantially, Hanson said. The village needs to pursue developments that will generate property and sales tax revenue without affecting schools, he added.
"The village of Antioch doesn't have a lot of debt," Hanson said. "In my opinion, this is a worthwhile project. Let's get this developed so we can relieve the (tax) burden for everybody else."
According to village documents, the purchase would have other benefits, including: realignment of Grimm Road to greatly reduce congestion at the key intersection of routes 83 and 173; providing better access to the Sequoit Creek Forest Preserve to the south; and, providing links to existing or planned trails.
Another key is possibly setting aside as much as 10 acres for a new public works facility to replace the antiquated trailers that have been used for 30 years.
Michael Garrigan, director of community development, said the village is working on a "major redevelopment plan" with several potential users. No names have been disclosed, although car dealerships and industrial uses have been mentioned in the past as possibilities.
"It may take awhile, but we're positioned well to see this through," Keim said.
In the most recent village newsletter, Hanson said economic development has been on the rise in Antioch. He cited the construction of a 455,000-square-foot building at the long-vacant Antioch Corporate Center on Route 173 and another, larger building planned there as examples.
Officials want to take advantage of any opportunity available. Next week, the village board will hear a presentation from Retail Strategies, a nationally known firm focusing on market analysis and planning.
Keim said firm would be a "good partner" to evaluate and market opportunities in the village.