Purchase of Port land for subdivision, vineyard, nature preserve to be completed soon, firm’s president says
Tom Swarthout, president of the Highview Group, said Tuesday he expects to complete the purchase of 227 acres on Port Washington’s far southeast side for the proposed Cedar Vineyard development by mid-May.
“Things are really moving quickly now,” Swarthout said. “It’s really exciting.”
The engineering work for the subdivision is completed, he said, and funding is in place for the purchase.
“Everybody’s on board,” Swarthout said, adding it has taken a significant amount of coordination to ensure that the purchase of the property — and almost simultaneous sale of 101 acres to Ozaukee County for a nature preserve — can be completed in short order.
The Highview Group is purchasing land off Highway C, land once slated for a high-intensity subdivision by the VK Development.
But instead of an intensive use of the land, Swarthout plans to create 82 half-acre lots on the land, with a vineyard planned along Highway C and a winery on the west side of Highway C south of Stonecroft Drive.
A 101-acre nature preserve will also be created that encompasses Cedar Gorge and roughly 150 feet of land along the Lake Michigan bluff. This property will be acquired by the Highview Group and within minutes sold to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, which has received grants to cover the $2 million purchase price.
Swarthout said 1,200 grapevines have been ordered for the vineyard. The fact they need to be planted by mid-June has driven the time schedule.
“We don’t want to lose the season,” he said.
The first vines will be planted on the north end of the subdivision, Swarthout said last year, adding that work on the winery, which will be built using pieces of several old barns the company has acquired, will also begin in earnest this year.
The winery and vineyard will be run by Steve and Maria Johnson, who own Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery in Kewaunee and Door 44 Winery in Sturgeon Bay.
Swarthout also said last year that he hopes to begin constructing houses on the land this year,.
Prospective homeowners have already reserved 12 lots in the subdivision, he said Tuesday.
Swarthout said he and his partners are encouraged by the prospective development of 44 acres of city-owned land on the south bluff.
“It brings a little more synergy to the area and validates what we believe is a special property,” he said. “We’re essentially creating a new neighborhood for the city.”