Construction season takes over

By: 
Scott Girard

Photo by Scott Girard. New apartments are being built near East Cheryl Parkway.

As the long, freezing winter comes to an end, Fitchburg will see plenty of action around the city in what should be a busy season of construction.

With new apartments, homes, businesses and roadwork, just going for a short drive around town brings the sights of orange cones, big machinery and, yes, a few traffic delays.

“There’s more than a lot of people realize,” city economic development director Mike Zimmerman said.

East side

Much of the major construction in the upcoming season will be for new apartments, especially on the city’s east side near the new interchange at U.S. Hwy. 14 and Lacy Road.

Avante Properties is in the process of adding to its existing 84-unit Riva apartment complex on East Cheryl Parkway with construction of a new 78-unit building, which should take through the spring and part of summer.

Just around the corner, Tim O’Brien homes is also constructing its third single-family home among 27 the company plans to build in the new Uptown neighborhood off Hwy. 14. It broke ground on the first home last October.

Zimmerman said this construction is the first of much expected in the neighborhood in the foreseeable future as businesses expand as a response to the growing population in the area.

“People want to see rooftops,” Zimmerman said, referencing the attraction residential buildings can bring for businesses.

In the nearby Swan Creek neighborhood, two new buildings with 95 units total will be built this summer, as well.

The Prairie Park neighborhood is also expected to see two new apartment buildings, with 64 units between them. The buildings’ design elements will need to go through a reapproval process.

Technology Campus

A few projects have yet to begin on open land in the Fitchburg Technology Campus off Lacy Road, but Zimmerman said he expects some approvals to come through this spring and see construction beginning this summer.

The Madison Group is purchasing a lot just south of the Tri-North building and is in the approval process to build its new headquarters there.

In another part of the campus, a developer will add a 39-unit apartment building this summer.

Seventeen single-family homes will also be added in the “Phase II” area of the campus.

Zimmerman said the city has less than a one-year supply of single-family lots, and that in an ideal situation, there would be open spaces in each of the three school districts residents of the city attend to offer more choices.

Oak Bank, which is housed in the Fitchburg Center business complex, will construct a new headquarters at 5330 Research Park Drive this summer.

Fish Hatchery and Fitchrona

In an already busy part of the city, The Vue will add 286 apartment units near the intersection of Post and Index roads on the north side.

The company recently completed the first building and is currently finishing the second. Zimmerman said he expects the others to follow soon after throughout the spring and summer.

Zimmerman said the “luxury” apartments should bring a new economic demographic to the area, which already has many lower-priced housing options.

The city is also considering amending its tax increment financing district in the area to spur some other expansion and construction, Zimmerman said. He expects that to happen by Oct. 1, so that businesses can get started on projects before winter hits.

On the west side, off Fitchrona and Nesbitt roads, a new lot has been approved for 82 apartment units in Orchard Pointe, although no permit has been issued.

The Hammersley property north of Lacy Road and east of Fitchrona Road is also on its way through the approval process for a new plat that would consist of 156 multifamily units and 172 single-family lots if approved.

Road work

Drivers can expect delays on two major roads in or near Fitchburg this year as part of a larger project.

“Road construction is going to be huge,” Zimmerman said.

First comes Verona Road at the Beltline, where construction began in early March. The major thoroughfare to Madison is down to two lanes in each direction for a stretch, and can be especially rough at peak hours.

And just a bit further down Verona Road, McKee Road/Hwy. PD will see its own renovations this spring and summer after the city came to an agreement with Dane County on how to pay for renovations.

The city will also turn two roads currently used as access roads for a pair of businesses into public roads.

The roads, which give access for the Thermo Fisher Scientific campus, will become Spoke and Sprocket drives, though the changes to the roads will be minimally intrusive for most commuters, Zimmerman said.

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