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Meissner family buys back Sussex farm eyed for commercial development

Jan. 29, 2013

Village of Sussex - The nearly 400-acre Meissner Farm - a landmark property at the corner of Silver Spring Road and Highway 164 that was slated for commercial development - may remain a farm, after all.

Hickory Hills Farm Inc. has purchased 370 acres of the land from Johnson Bank which took the property over from Bielinski Brothers who had originally purchased it for residential development.

Until recently, NAI/MLG Development of Brookfield apparently held an option to purchase a large portion of the land.

The development company was in negotiations with the Village of Sussex last year for the development of a multimillion dollar commercial park on 120 acres of the land.

Initially, the developers were seeking village assistance in the form of a tax increment financing (TIF) district for the financing of public improvements that would be needed for the development. Later, MLG/NAI officials suggested the village purchase the property and lease it back to the company who would recruit light industrial and office tenants for the commercial park.

However, initial plans for the development were scrapped after the developers learned project costs were going to be higher than anticipated.

In October of 2012, J. Michael Mooney, chairman of the board of NAI/MLG, said a new plan would be submitted to village officials within "two to three months." Mooney added that NAI/MLG was serving as the listing agent marketing the sale of the remaining 270 acres for Johnson Bank.

Mooney later said he did not anticipate village officials would begin reviewing a new development plan for the site until village officials had reviewed and approved two other development projects, the Meijer supercenter proposed at highways 164 and K (Lisbon Road) and redevelopment of the Mammoth Springs Cannery site.

Mooney and village officials could not be reached for comment.

Peter Meissner of Hickory Hills Farms said the Meissner family closed the sale transaction with Johnson Bank on the property late Friday, Jan. 25.

Meissner said he believed the bank finally agreed to sell the farmland back to the family because there "were too many contingencies" involved in the MLG/NAI offer to purchase the land from the bank for a reported $2.4 million.

The Meissner family had sold the land to the Bielinskis in 2000. They attempted to buy the land back after the Johnson Bank took over the land when the Bielinski Brothers encountered financial difficulties.

Meissner said they wanted to repurchase the farmland because would it compliment a dairy cattle operation the company maintains in Iowa.

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