Bicycles and business parks
The City of Sparta is the self-proclaimed “Bicycle Capital of America,” and an up-and-coming commercial and tourism community. Home to several international business headquarters, Sparta was looking to expand its local economy and entice new businesses to the region, capitalizing on the influx of residents and tourists enticed by the surrounding “Driftless Region” and the 32-mile Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail, the first rails-to-trails project in Wisconsin.
With a convenient location adjacent to Interstate 90, Sparta is perched along a bustling thoroughfare that channels traffic from Minnesota east toward the connector with Interstate 94. Recognizing their prime location for growth, the City worked with MSA on a phased approach toward the development of a new business park on the south end of the community, with the goal of stimulating the local economy, drawing new commerce, creating jobs, and increasing the City’s tax base.
The acquisition of a 180-acre parcel of land adjacent to I-90 and STH 27 was purchased, with a development study, review of existing conditions, drafting of concept plans, park designs and cost estimations compiled soon thereafter.
The selected parcel was a variety of land uses and mixed zoning: 80 acres of zoned agricultural, 45 of open scrub land, 55 acres of woodland and a remaining 1-acre parcel of wetland. It was recognized that a portion of the site would need to be reserved for the new, community stormwater management facilities, to coincide with the lowest elevation of the site. A conservation area was also required; five acres of higher elevation was set aside for that, with topography too steep to successfully support industrial building development. In addition, the conceptual plan identified maintaining a minimum 50-foot vegetative buffer along the southern boundary of the site in order to minimize disturbances to the existing rural subdivision.
To aid with the marketing and selling of the parcels, the City asked MSA’s Geographic Information System (GIS) staff to develop a publicly shareable Story Map, which presents critical business park information on an interactive online platform through ArcGIS Online. Attributes such as municipal boundaries, parcel size and locations, sale and availability status, and a 3D tour allow users to virtually step into the business park project and explore the possibilities from any location. It also provides demographic and statistical data about the greater Sparta community, travel time to the business park from surrounding areas, and video testimonials from businesses who have already chosen to relocate to Sparta as well as videos from residents about why others should consider moving to, and investing in, Sparta.
Phase I of the South Pointe Business Park Project was completed ahead of schedule, at approximately 60% less than the budgeted construction cost. MSA was the leading project consulting engineer for this phase, guiding over 95% of the planning, design and construction oversight work. The City is steadily filling their offering of parcels ranging in size from 1 ½ to 80 acres. Phase II implementation is currently underway, which adds street and utility construction with additional storm sewer mains, sanitary manholes, water mains, water valves, fire hydrants, related water service laterals, and urban city street resurfacing with curb and gutter.
The park holds the honor of being selected as one of just 21 sites to date to be designated as a Certified in Wisconsin development-ready site by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Certified Sites Program, a program that sets a high level of standards for the certification of industrial sites.
Sparta hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate South Pointe Business Park’s grand opening on September 24, 2018, with Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch officiating. With a number of parcels already under contract and businesses continuing to open their doors, Sparta’s new business park is offering just the right blend of flexibility and affordability as the community continues to grow and prosper.