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Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 16:53

Village will consider alternatives to retail development along Port Road after business proposal falls through

    The Village of Grafton Plan Commission is considering a new vision other than retail for the Port Washington Road corridor.
    The decision to expand future opportunities for the corridor comes in response to a development plan that fell through in July for a 69,000-square-foot building on a 17-acre parcel behind Costco on Port Washington Road known as Grafton Commons North.
    “This is a highly visible area that has a great impact on the community. We should see what kind of options and opportunities we have to create a synergy of businesses instead of a destination for retail,” Village President Jim Brunnquell said during the Sept. 26 Plan Commission meeting.
    “We’ve been seeing the retail landscape changing towards more online shopping. Before we move further down this road, I wanted the Plan Commission to have a little input and feedback to help the village staff with planning where we’re going.”
    The new plan for the corridor comes after the village spent eight months with development experts to make amendments to the village’s comprehensive plan. During the meeting, several landowners and developers were present to express their concerns.
    “We just got done with this plan and spent $50,000 for an engineering firm to analyze this and set the direction,” landowner Bob Tillman said. “Just because one person backed out that shouldn’t stop everything. It doesn’t make any sense and I don’t get it. You’ve got to give the market a chance out there.”
    According to the Village’s Director of Planning and Development Jessica Wolff, the volatile condition of the retail market is spurred by the growing needs of baby boomers and millenials who are attracted to online shopping.    
    “Their preferences are changing and the market conditions are an indication of that. We’ve already seen several big box retail closures since the adoption of the plan and I honestly see that continuing for the next couple of years,” she said.
    Wolf mentioned there is opportunity to develop business around the Aurora Medical Center.
    “The remaining vacant land on the corridor calls for something new,” Wolff said. “I think we need to capitalize on Aurora with the cluster of jobs and visitors. It’s also a timely opportunity to better align with our Quality Life, Naturally brand.”
    Plan Commission member Amy Plato agreed.
    “I definitely think if there could be something better here, we need to be flexible,” Plato said. “We need to be more holistic and have a global look on things to prepare for the changes.”
    According to Brunnquell, the village staff will conduct a review for future development on the Port Washington Road corridor and will come back with their findings for the Plan Commission at a later date.
    “We need to present to developers our future vision for the Port Washington Road corridor. Nobody likes to see an empty building,” he said. “At the end of the day, we want to make sure what we’re doing is consistent with the direction of the community as a whole.”

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