Verona saw some ambitious plans in 2017, but it appears only one of the big ones will turn out in 2018.
The Sugar Creek Commons development is still under negotiation, but city leaders seem to be on board with a requested $5.4 million taxpayer funding plan. They’re expected to make the call on that within the next few weeks, and that would mean three new retail buildings opening on West Verona Avenue within about a year and a hotel and a couple hundred new apartments soon after that.
Other developments that showed promise in Verona last year but did not get approval included a downtown redevelopment that would have demolished the Ace Hardware and World of Variety buildings in favor of downtown-style apartments-over-retail; and one downtown-area apartment complex that was far too big for either the Common Council or Plan Commission. The latter is back in a smaller form this month, and the former could still be resurrected or revamped, as both buildings remain conspicuously vacant.
The council approved plans for a massive 74,000-square-foot home for Cellular Dynamics International, but the Madison company now owned by Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm pulled back on its expansion plans. City leaders are holding out some hope CDI returns with a more modest plan in another part of the park, but when or if it will remains a mystery.
Another development that has a questionable future is Legends Edge, which has been waiting on the controversial Northwest Neighborhood plan. Even if that is approved, it faces an uphill battle, with multiple alders expressing reservations over its seven-story apartment buildings and large-scale retail and hotel. But a potential political shift on the council this April could make a difference.
One plan that was approved but appears to be on hold is the West End mixed use development, with 37 apartments and townhouses and 15,000 square feet of retail. Indications so far are that it might return without the residential component.
Another plan that had been on hold after more than a year appears to be on track, with a 29-unit apartment complex and 3,000 square feet of retail at the corner of Paoli Street and South Nine Mound Road. That could begin going up this spring.
The city also approved plans for a Festival Foods grocery store next to Farm and Fleet, and that’s expected to break ground this spring and open in 2019.