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Portage County Farmers Market

Where the Roads Meet — Commercial Crossroads Opportunities

By Portage County Business Council

Location. Location. Location. It’s often touted as critical to the success of a business. And Dan Mahoney, Village of Plover Administrator, would agree. According to Mahoney, the location of the Portage County Business Park and Crossroads Commons retail area is one very critical factor in its success. Located smack dab in the center of Wisconsin and just off I-39 and Highway 10, this combination of business park and retail shopping center is a very successful one. In fact, according to Mahoney, despite the recession the Crossroads Commons development has exhibited steady growth.

Easy in. Easy out.

Just a few years ago, sales in the Business Park had slowed. The Village of Plover and Portage County partnered with TOLD Development Inc. to spur sales. TOLD advised them to build a retail shopping center in the vacant land across from the Business Park and attract three “anchor” stores that would draw the interest of other retailers. TOLD helped them secure Kohl’s, Wal-Mart and Lowe’s at Crossroads Commons. “TOLD’s assistance has been critical,” states Mahoney. “They helped develop a strategy that not only gave the Commons a strong start, but attracted a nice mix of national and local retailers that bring people in off the highway.”

The fountains alongside the highway — which dress up the storm water detention facility — and the big-name retailer signs draw the eyeballs of 60,000 people routinely driving by the shopping center and business park every weekend. Explains Mahoney, “You cannot underestimate the importance of the Interstate — it’s a major route for families and businesses. And that works to our advantage. The Interchange provides drivers with easy access to both the Business Park and the shopping center across the street. At the time we initiated this, we figured we’d draw people from Portage, Marathon, Wood and Waushara counties — but, in fact, the draw has been stronger than expected. We’re drawing people from more distant counties and larger cities like Appleton and the Madison area. We’ve had residents of Columbia County, which is just north of Dane County, tell us they prefer to shop here because there’s less traffic, great retailers and its easy to get to.”

North woods tourism has also increased — bringing more traffic from Illinois as well. And the path of the majority of these visitors is right along I-39. “Thanks to our local visitors bureau, local tourism has also increased — we have more people playing here and staying here,” he adds.

Business and retail synergy.

The location of the Crossroads Commons across from the Portage County Business Park is another critical factor in its success. “It’s truly a link,” he notes. “The synergy between the businesses in the Park and the restaurants and shopping centers in the Commons works very well. It has prompted the growth of the Commons and the Business Park.”

Crossroads Commons is home to SweetFrog Yogurt, owned by former Green Bay Packer William Henderson. Henderson, who attended the Grand Opening of his enterprise at the Commons, is looking to open other SweetFrog locations in central Wisconsin communities.

WalMart, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Christopher Banks, Furniture and Appliance Mart, TJ Maxx and Joanne Fabrics are examples of other retailers located in the Commons. Other residents include Aspen Dental and the DeVita Dialysis Center. “We attended the International Council for Shopping Centers event in Chicago and learned that having medical centers in commercial areas is a growing trend. This mixed-use strategy has really worked for Crossroads as well.”

In fact, the Best Buy and Kohl’s stores located at Crossroads Commons typically finish in the top for earnings across the chain — and they’re smaller locations than others within the chains. “Stats like that demonstrate that this retail center is a destination and a draw. They’re competing against other stores in their chain and outperforming them.” Stats like that will also help attract other chain stores interested in the region.

Secrets to success.

Besides location and the retail synergy with the Portage County Business Park, Mahoney credits the success to the long-term planning by all the parties involved. “Through this process we’ve learned how important it is to work with a development company like TOLD. They gave us great strategic advice and because of their relationships with national retailers, they were able to secure national chains that we were interested in. They have unique ties with these chains and they work hard to see that the chains’ interests are served while also serving the needs of the community.”

“We’ve also paid close attention to the future while developing this in the present,” he notes. “We looked at potential issues and solved them before they became an issue. We chose an area that provides us with plenty of room for expansion. And we examined the long-term impact of this retail development in terms of transportation.” He concludes, “I really think this combination of Business Park and mixed-use commercial shopping center puts us on the map for future economic development.”