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August 2014

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Sussex developer's architects 'rapidly' readying plans for cannery development

Developer expects to be at December Plan Commission

Village of Sussex - Discussion of the plans for the initial phases of the Mammoth Springs residential and commercial development at the corner of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue is anticipated at the Plan Commission's meeting in December.

"As you know, there is nothing certain but death and taxes, but our target is to make a presentation to the village in late December," developer Art Sawall said.

Sawall, a successful computer software entrepreneur, purchased the 10-acre site of the former Mammoth Springs Cannery Company in January of 2011.

In an exclusive interview with a Sussex Sun reporter, Sawall said architects and engineers are working as rapidly as possible on a conceptual plan that would be presented to the Plan Commission at its Dec. 20 meeting.

The plans will call for four to five three-story residential buildings, he said.

"We are putting an urban type of a design in a suburban setting," Sawall added.

He said later phases of the project will include construction of commercial buildings.

"How soon we will begin with commercial is hard to say given the state of the economy," Sawall said.

"My vision for the property is that we will not begin developing commercially until all of the residential is filled, since we will need the residential properties to help support the commercial ones," he added.

Sawall's development of the site is a crucial component to the village's plans to eventually redevelop sections of Main Street, including residential and commercial neighborhoods near the intersection of Waukesha Avenue and Main Street and residential, commercial and village government areas in vicinity of Village Hall and the Piggly Wiggly.

The village's ability to provide real estate tax incentives to redevelop the neighborhoods depends heavily on real estate tax and other revenues generated by a successful development on the cannery site, according to village officials.

However, one of the major hurdles to the development of the property has been the rerouting of the Waukesha County Bug Line Recreational Trail, which travels through the site.

The Bug Line railway right-of-way was in the center of the cannery site to accommodate freight trains carrying cargo to and from the cannery.

After the cannery was closed, the federal government provided funds to Waukesha County to purchase the right-of-way to be used as part of the recreational trail that extends from the Village of Merton east about 11 miles to Menomonee Falls.

Federal regulations require that the land can be used only for recreational purposes unless it can be replaced with a similar tract of land of equivalent value, according to Waukesha County officials.

Sawall said he is reviewing several options regarding the trail, but added he could not discuss them in detail since some of those options are still being negotiated.

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