OCONOMOWOC - A decade ago, an upscale regional mall was envisioned for Pabst Farms. But, as Alderman Jeff Schmidt observed Tuesday night, April; 18, "the retail industry has changed; I know that."
Schmidt and other aldermen then approved plans for a Mills Fleet Farm store near Interstate-94 and Highway 67, and seemed reasonably happy to have it.
"Honestly, when I heard 'Fleet Farm,' I wasn't jumping up and down," newly inaugurated Alderman Lou Kowieski said. "I think Pabst Farms was supposed to be a regional draw, similar to a Bay Shore." But, he added, "This is a nice store. I'm pleasantly surprised."
Schmidt agreed, telling developers, "You guys really stepped up to the plate."
Developer Paul Klister told the council that Mills is investing $425,000 for landscaping for the 218,628-square-foot store.
"That tells you how badly they want to be here, how confident they are they'll be successful," he said.
While the reaction of aldermen was generally favorable, there was discussion of delaying the votes on the store for two weeks since Alderman Matt Rosek was absent.
"I just don't see what the rush is," said Alderman Derek Zwart. "It would be nice if we had everybody here, or at least the alderman whose district it's in." The other Third District alderman, Mike Miller, was present.
Schmidt responded, "I'm sure that if (Rosek) had concerns" he would have been present or requested a delay.
Mayor Dave Nold added, "This isn't rushing; we've been talking about this since January."
The council voted, 5-2, against a delay after Klister said even a two-week delay "is a huge deal" since Mills wants to start construction as soon as possible.
Architect Stephen Smith described the store as a "new prototype" for Mills' stores. "Hopefully this will be a catalyst for other development at Pabst Farms," he said.