July 21, 2024

Housing Finance Development

It's Your Housing Finance Development

Stories to Watch: Verona Technology Park, more housing top list of what to watch in 2023 | News

Development and tough budgeting will be the name of the game for Verona in 2023.

All eyes will once again be on the Northwest Neighborhood between the City and Town of Verona, as well as the Verona Technology Park to see what developments come to fruition and are proposed throughout the year.

With less state funding expected to arrive this year for the Verona Area School District, as well as the passage of a $19 million referendum in November, the district’s shift from debt repayment to funding more school operations will also be a developing story to watch.

[READ: Stories of the Year 2022: Verona celebrates 175th birthday, $19 million referendum and new international retailer in 2022]

Also in 2023, the City of Verona will be naming a new city administrator as Adam Sayre steps back into his former position with the city.

Northwest Neighborhood residential developments

Several developments are already underway that include both rental and owner-occupied properties throughout Verona, and these projects are showing no signs of slowing in 2023.

With several projects both already approved and under consideration, the Northwest Neighborhood, which includes lands generally bounded by CTH PD (McKee Road) to the south, University Ridge Golf Course to the east, and the Town of Verona to the north and west, will be a major talking point in the housing development discussion for Verona.

Just last week, the City of Verona Common Council voted to move forward with the Ardent Glen development on the Marty Property, located on CTH PD and Shady Oak Lane, for 258 single-family and 148 twin homes. Three other housing developments have also been proposed to and are under consideration by council, including the Dreger Property, Hexagon Property and in the nearby Whispering Coves neighborhood.

In January, the comprehensive plan amendment proposed by Fiduciary Real Estate Development Inc. will be reviewed for the Dreger Property, located directly south of University Ridge Golf Course on CTH PD. The plan includes 427 multi-family rental units on 35 acres, as well as 1.4 acres of commercial development, all zoned Agriculture Transition within the Town of Verona that will need to be annexed similar to the Marty Property.

Also proposed to the council was a 57-acre parcel on the Hexagon Property, located north of CTH PD and east of Shady Oak Lake. The plan presented to council includes the construction of approximately 650 market-rate multi-family units within three buildings.

Then, just south of CTH PD and west of CTH M, Whispering Coves has proposed adding a 44-unit townhome concept plan to the existing neighborhood to provide alternate forms of housing for future residents.

With some of these projects already underway, conversations are also arising on how to best reconstruct CTH PD and other roadways throughout the neighborhood to account for the drastic increase in traffic that will result from the projects.

Ongoing development in Verona Technology Park

In 2022, the Verona Technology Park, located near the intersection of highways M and 18/151, saw great progress. In 2023, more of the same is expected.

In August, International retailer Costco Wholesale opened its 152,000-square-foot warehouse at 1000 Batker Court, at the southeast corner of County Highway M and County Highway PB. Just two months earlier, MilliporeSigma completed a 70,000-square-foot facility expansion at its 1011 Kettle Moraine Trail facility to double its output capacity.

In May of last year, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals broke ground on their two buildings that will also be located in the Technology Park. Construction is still underway as of December, and great progress is anticipated in 2023.

When completed, the first building will be an approximately 125,000-square-foot laboratory and office facility that will support process development and analytical activities. The second building will be an approximately 160,000-square-foot drug manufacturing facility, which company leaders say will be critical to Arrowhead’s global operations.

The Verona campus will be a complement to Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals’ existing 111,000-square-foot research and development facility on Madison’s west side. It is anticipated to add approximately 250 jobs.

Verona schools shifting funding away from debt payment to operations

District leaders are projecting receiving less state aid for the 2023-24 school year as a result of its 18.6% increase in property valuation in relation to the number of students compared to the state.

With the passage of November’s operating budget referendum, the Verona Area School District will now be shifting more money to school operations, and away from prepayment of debt for building the new $160 million high school in 2020.

The recurring school operations referendum allows the district to fund a 4.7% consumer price index that could be used in a cost-of-living raise for staff, a $2 per hour raise for hourly support staff, to offer tax rate stability and additional staffing flexibility for programs and increased enrollment.

Despite the referendum, the tax rate will remain the same at $11.40 per $1,000 of assessed value, a 10% decline from last year.

District deputy superintendent of business services Chad Wiese said the district has built prepayment of the principal and interest payments for high school into the budget based on the last referendum that was approved in 2017.

As part of the budget planning, the district also has a long-term plan for capital projects.

“We know we will probably be having conversations in three to five years about new square footage,” he said. “This passing budget allows us to do that in a way so we wouldn’t have to ask the community for a $1 to a $1.50 mill rate increase to add new square footage.”

The district has an estimated and unaudited $1.7 million fund balance from the 2022 school year they can transfer into the fund balance, which is projected to be $19 million for 2023.

“Fund balance gives us an opportunity in the future to prepay debt, offset capital expansion and it’s good for our bond rating when we eventually have to borrow money again,” he said. “It’s a sign of our financial stability and health of our school district.”

Search for new City of Verona administrator

At its Nov. 14 meeting, a transition agreement was accepted by the City of Verona Common Council for City Administrator Adam Sayre, who has requested to move back to his former role as director of planning and development for the city.

Under the agreement, Sayre will stay in the position of administrator until a replacement is hired, which the city hopes will be around the beginning of April 2023 or sooner. Sayre made sure to note that date remains flexible to ensure the city is able to hire the right fit.

Viable candidates will go through screenings and the personnel committee, who will then provide updates and recommendations to the council.

“This transition agreement was requested by me, it was not requested by the mayor or requested by any alders,” Sayre said in the meeting. “By the time this agreement expires, I’ll have been the city administrator for more than four years. During that time, we made it through a global pandemic, thank goodness, with development and growth continuing. During those four years, I’ve been lucky to have a lot of great employees around me, and we’re very fortunate that most of our employees here are really great people.

“I’m also very thankful for my wife and kids, they’ve supported me during this time as administrator, and they are also supporting me during this transition,” he added. “I have missed too much of their lives during the last four years, and a big reason for me to step back is to spend more time with them. As my kids get older, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m an administrator at some point in the future again.”

City of Verona Mayor Luke Diaz and the council expressed they are grateful that Sayre is staying within the city staff and they hope to see him back in the city administrator seat when the time is right.