It’s a rule nearly as old as real estate: location, location, location. That seems to be part of the secret sauce transforming the Village of Fox Crossing into one of the hottest construction locations in Northeast Wisconsin. Armed with a healthy supply of available land, a nice mix of incentives and the approaching completion of the U.S. Highway 10/ State Highway 441 interchange, it seems to be the place everyone wants to build these days.
Community First Credit Union and WOW Logistics celebrated grand openings for new buildings in the village in the past few months, and in October, SECURA Insurance began preliminary work for its new headquarters there.
“We’ve had a lot of successes here lately,” George Dearborn, director of community development for the village, says. “We have reasonable tax rates, some good incentives and a great location. We’ve always been an attractive place.”
While the village has always been open for new development — Miron Construction Co. and McMahon both constructed headquarters there in recent years — the latest surge seemingly started with Community First’s plans for a new, $25 million headquarters in the village at the intersection of U.S. Highway 10 and County Highway CB. In the works for nearly five years, the 130,000-square-foot facility is located in Fox Crossing’s first TIF district — a tool that allows development costs to be paid for using the incremental change in property value before and after the development.
“We’ve got some nice tools we can use,” Dearborn says. “But I do think one of the best selling points now is the new interchange. Once that’s done, property values will only increase. It’s going to be a lot more expensive in a few years.”
As Dearborn points out, much of the recent growth has centered on the intersection of highways 10 and CB, just to the west of the 10/441 project. That makes perfect sense to Manny Vasquez, vice president of business development for Pfefferle Co. Inc., especially in context of the project to expand the highways and interchanges.
“The end is in sight for the expansion of U.S. 10/WIS 441 from four to six lanes,” Vasquez says. “Even though the project began almost five years ago, seeing the ongoing construction work makes the finish line seem more attainable.”
In keeping with its motto, Fox Crossing is centrally located between Neenah-Menasha and Appleton, providing a convenient location for the transport of products, services and workers, he says. In addition, the village’s proximity to natural amenities is a plus, particularly for companies that value quality-of-life factors.
The village’s approach to development also helps, Vasquez says.
“The village has done a good job of setting a business-friendly environment. Staff is responsive, flexible and aggressive, utilizing financial incentives to lure large employers to move to or expand in Fox Crossing — particularly since they became a village,” he says. “This (latest) increase in corporate expansions helps keep the momentum going and attracts new commercial, as well as residential, development, investment and tax base.”
For the credit union, it was a matter of finding a location that could support its growth. Now the third-largest credit union in the state, the new facility houses more than 220 employees, a number that is anticipated to grow. The credit union had simply run out of room in its location on Oneida Street in Appleton.
Since creating the TIF district for Community First, the village created two subsequent districts to support large development projects: WOW Logistics, which opened its new headquarters near the 10/CB interchange in November, and SECURA.
WOW Logistics recently celebrated the grand opening of its 24,000-square-foot corporate office. The new building sits near the interchange of highways 10 and CB, on a 7.2-acre site in the McMahon business park.
“This project is a result of the exponential growth WOW Logistics Co. has experienced over the last few years,” Howard Kamerer, president and CEO of WOW Logistics, says. “With existing development projects underway, this evolving area will provide a variety of amenities that our employees value, such as restaurants, banking and daycare.”
SECURA ran out of ways to expand and accommodate its growing team at its current facility on Memorial Drive in Appleton. Fox Crossing provided the space to remain in Wisconsin and the Fox Valley.
“SECURA has done business in Northeastern Wisconsin for 117 years,” Dave Gross, company president and CEO, says. “This new development positions us for the next 100 years. We’re committed to growing our operations and creating jobs in the Fox Valley area, so policyholders, independent agents and employees can continue to place their trust in us.”
SECURA’s new facility, considered an initial building, is planned at 300,000 square feet with capacity for 900 employees. Growth potential is incorporated into the master plan of the site, as well as the modular building design. Construction is expected to wrap in 2019.
Not all the construction in the village is located within a TIF district. Outside of the TIF districts, additional development has been filling in the gaps, with several new medical providers locating near existing medical facilities.
“We seem to be developing a whole complex of medical facilities,” Dearborn says. “We’ve had a lot of success with that.”