Market study shows wealth of options in Mequon east growth area

Study suggests building out area in 35 years

Sept. 17, 2013

Mequon — A recently completed market analysis of Mequon's northeast sector shows a variety of potential residential, commercial and retail developments that could grow the city's tax base and local economy.

Presented to the Common Council last week by Erin Welty of planning and community development firm Vierbicher Associates, the study is meant to help guide city officials as they decide the future of the city's east growth area, a 748-acre swath of mostly undeveloped land along Port Washington Road, north of Highland Road and south of Pioneer Road.

The Vierbicher study suggests a mix of single and multifamily residential, commercial and retail development throughout the east growth area, with a full build-out within 35 years. To make that happen, Welty said, the council will need to revise its long-term plan and zoning within the area.

"Comprehensive zoning and planning are the most useful tools in our arsenal," Welty said. "Updating your zoning and your comprehensive plan are your best tools for deciding what goes where."

Welty said what city officials decide in terms of city planning is less important than consistency in enforcement.

"They key to this one is establishing what the municipal policy will be," Welty said. "I know that's a hard decision, but (developers) are really about eliminating risk."

Open space intriguing

During the discussion, aldermen expressed interest in conservation-style retail developments, which, like conservation subdivisions, set aside open space near developments.

"We haven't looked at that concept," Alderman Ken Zganjar said, "but that sounds pretty interesting."

Alderwoman Pam Adams said the city should look into converting certain wetlands in the area into public parks.

"Businesspeople could go to picnic tables for lunch and families could go there,"Adams said.

Need traffic projections

Underlying the Vierbicher market study is an assumption that the state Department of Transportation will go through with its plan to build a new Interstate 43 interchange at Highland Road.

City Administrator Lee Szymborski said the DOT is waiting for the council to make a decision on whether to proceed with the interchange — which would at the earliest be constructed in 2019 — within the next four to six months.

Mayor Dan Abendroth said that city officials can't make a call on the interchange until the DOT releases the traffic projections which necessitate the interchange project.

"We don't have a comprehensive projection package that we can present to anyone," Abendroth said.

Vierbicher's prospective timeline shows the city completing an engineering study and utility planning in 2013, corridor planning in 2014, and additional planning, infrastructure planning, and developer partnering from 2014 to 2016.


Recommended development in east growth area:


acres retail


acres commercial


acres multi-family (apartments)


acres single family

Cost/benefit analysis:

$3.5 million

potential annual property tax, if fully developed as recommended


estimated new residents to fill new housing


new jobs

$26.5 million

estimated new consumer demand

$10 million

Estimated city cost to build Highland Road interchange and necessary sewer/water infrastructure


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