For decades Olympia Resort and aspects of its property have been in
flux — and now with the closure of the resort itself, city officials
are looking at what’s next.
In fact, city
officials have begun conversations with several of the Summit Avenue
Corridor property and land owners in a collaborative effort to
stimulate growth in this portion of the city that includes Olympia,
said Oconomowoc Economic Development Director Bob Duffy.
“We’ve met with
them individually, but we want to bring them in collectively,” said
Duffy. “And then explore next steps based on their feedback as
seen a lot of development within downtown and the Pabst Farms region
of the city, but the Highway 16 East Corridor and the Summit Avenue
Corridor, which is best described as Olympia resort territory, have
become a Community Development Authority focus.
“It’s just open
land space that has the ability to be developed but currently stands
idle,” said Duffy. “We see this area as the best opportunity for
growth that’s available.”
Alderman Lou Kowieski said the CDA has taken a new approach to
development and redevelopment by engaging property owners in what he
calls a “collaborative visioning effort.” The city has been less
flexible in the past when it comes to the development ideas of land
and property owners, he said.
“Now, we’ll be
working together with property and landowners to create a combined
vision that’s in the best interest for them as well as the
community,” said Kowieski.
Duffy added that
working with land and property owners is of utmost importance
because the private sector is in the best position to determine
market feasibility from an investor’s perspective.
redevelopment talks are in their preliminary stages, Duffy said he
hopes that in time, property owners will become comfortable working
with each other as well as with the city.
“From the city’s
perspective, we want to see growth take place where an opportunity
exists,” said Duffy. “It’s not our intent to dictate what they’re
going to do with their property.”
closed, is there a void left from a lodging and entertainment venue
standpoint? What kind of opportunity is there for a housing
component given the Summit Avenue Corridor’s vicinity to I-94?
These are a few
of the questions the CDA is looking to address as they take their
first steps toward aiding the more than 300 acres of land that
comprise the Summit Avenue Corridor evolve, said Kowieski.
important, Kowieski said, is that both the city and property owners
find ways to attract the type of development that not only makes the
underutilized area active but have a regional draw.
Kowieski said a
novel idea might be to transform the now vacant ski hill into a
terraced vineyard or an experience-oriented restaurant that allows
for wine tasting. Of course, property owners would have to agree,
but this is a general example of what Oconomowoc could do in
combination with housing development to bring families and
businesses to the area, he said.
what we would like to see is experience-oriented elements that would
become an asset to the community and a regional draw,” said Kowieski.
Council has put sending out requests for proposals (RFPs) on pause
until the CDA has scheduled a group meeting with property owners to
ensure there are no surprises, said Kowieski. However, the city is
looking forward to getting the process underway with RFPs to be sent
out as early as February, he said.
“As a community,
we need not look at what is in place today but what can be in place
for tomorrow to continue the evolution of the community,” he said.