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Signs of economic progress

An old landmark is being torn down and the intersection of highways 45 and 22 in Clintonville is being opened up to become a four-way intersection.

Both projects are signs of economic progress in Clintonville.

Klein Auto has been a big part of both projects, selling land to a developer to make way for a Walgreens store to be constructed in 2011, and also purchasing the old feed mill site, tearing it down and transforming the vacated area into an extension of their growing car lot.

“We needed to replace the land we sold to the developer, so we purchased the feed mill site,” explained General Manager John Klein. “From a square footage standpoint, it compensated well. WE gave up the best corner in the city, but our hope is that what is good for Clintonville will be good for us at Klein Auto.”

This type of teamwork, along with a great deal of patience, helped make the development of the intersection possible. Klein stated that many entities have had to work together to get the project done, and the development has been in the works for 2.5 years. Some of the businesses and entities involved include the City of Clintonville, MRED Cummings Commercial Development Corporation, Klein Auto, Walgreens, Clintonville Elevator, Torborg’s, and the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT).

“The developer (MRED Cummings) approached the city in 2007 to inquire about a possible Walgreens site in Clintonville,” recalled City Administrator Lisa Kuss. “Their biggest issue was that Walgreens had to be on a four-way intersection; so, we started meeting with DOT officials. We negotiated and came to an agreement. The city will retain ownership of the road, and all other parties involved worked together to complete eight different land swaps in order to make all of the stakeholders whole.

“Due to the state of the economy, Walgreens decided to push back construction until 2011,” Kuss continued. “It has been a long process, but everyone has been very flexible.”

Kuss said the city agreed to pay for the road construction costs, using funds from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District 4. Though the intersection is not inside TIF 4, the law states that TIF funds can still be used for this project since it is within 1/2 mile of the TIF district. Reconstruction of the intersection is underway and is expected to be completed by Oct. 15.

Kuss said any large project like this one usually takes at least 18 months to complete, and that large economic development projects don’t happen overnight.

“Overall, this has been a great group to work with,” she said. “It’s all about being persistent and coordinating all the entities involved-that’s my job. A huge part of economic development is being a facilitator and believing things can happen-it just takes hard work.”

Klein said his business is still deciding what to do with the other structures on the feed mill site, but is happy to have the parking lot available for vehicles. “We will keep the office building and the concrete structure,” Klein said. “Crews tearing down the feed mill are salvaging the old lumber, and there is a lot of value in the extensive amount of wood within the old feed mill.”

Klein said all the work to make the developments possible will be more than worth it in the end.

“Adding Walgreens will be a positive impact. Any time you add a major retailer, you hope to increase retail traffic, which is good for all Clintonville businesses,” Klein stated. “The cooperation and growth factors are so important. This development isn’t bad for businesses; Historically speaking, it will bring more for everyone.”

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