Lang seeks I-94/Highway C land
Wants ‘New Delafield’ development

By KELLY SMITH - Special to Conley Media

Feb. 4, 2019

This sketch by Bob Lang illustrates one of the possibly seven multiuse buildings that he plans to build on 28 acres of land near the interchange of Interstate 94 and Highway C if he can obtain options on the land and approvals from the city for the development.
Courtesy of Robert Lang Company

DELAFIELD — Calendar entrepreneur and developer Bob Lang is planning a complex of seven multiuse buildings that he has dubbed “New Delafield” on 28 acres he is trying to acquire near Interstate 94 and Highway C, south of the downtown business district.

Lang said he is seeking a 10-month option from Ixonia Bank on the controversial parcel of land that he once owned.

Numerous attempts during the past two decades to commercially develop the land have failed as a result of well-orchestrated opposition from neighbors who live in the woodlands adjacent to the land abutting the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Ixonia Bank CEO Daniel Westrope confirmed the bank has been in discussions with Lang about an option, but said no decision has been made.

Lang admits he has no capital or financing backing for the land option.

However, Westrope acknowledged that Lang’s development résumé, familiarity with the property, and the issues associated with developing it, are advantages the bank would be willing to weigh while considering whether to grant the option.

Lang said the centerpiece of the development would be the Abraham Lincoln Art Gallery and Civil War Museum that would be the home of his collection of 72 rare Civil War artifacts and original oil paintings of President Abraham Lincoln which he wants to sell to a local benefactor.

In addition, “New Delafield” would include a series of residential and commercial buildings that would enable its residents to “live, work and eat” at the complex, Lang said.

Possible planning, zoning issues

However, the proposed development might face some major planning and zoning issues including changing the city’s comprehensive land use plan and rezoning the property, City Planner Roger Dupler said.

Most of the land is zoned for commercial office space and research park, Dupler said.

Dupler said restaurants and residential condominiums are not permitted in the zoning district, unless associated with a commercial senior living facility, and he is uncertain whether a museum would be permitted.

In addition, the city code requires all commercial properties to be served by municipal sewer and there is presently no sewer service located north of Interstate 94. Nearby homeowners have vowed to block any attempts by developers to change the zoning on the land.

However, they have also said they would not oppose a development that complied with existing zoning requirements.

Lang expressed confidence he could overcome the issues related to developing the land and added he will meet with neighbors to persuade them his plans are beneficial to the neighborhood and the city.

He said he decided to develop the property south of the interstate because he could not acquire land in downtown Delafield to implement his plans to continue the commercial development he began nearly 30 years ago when his gift card and calendar company was a national phenomenon.