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Realtors selling property near Foxconn play waiting game

By DIANA PANUNCIAL
Racine Journal Times

MOUNT PLEASANT, Wis. (AP) — Howard Haubrich, a real estate agent with Bear Realty, has a few properties he’s trying to sell between Racine and Kenosha County. But there’s only one of them that’s carrying a price tag of $3.9 million.

It’s a 30-acre property on the 4000 block of 90th street in Mount Pleasant. And it’s “right across the street from Foxconn,” Haubrich said.

He had hoped it would be prime real estate for developers and businesses trying to get in on the sprouting Interstate-94 corridor around Foxconn. But, since it was put on the market in December, there haven’t been any buyers. Not yet at least.

“When we originally did this, we thought they were building a lot out there,” Haubrich said of what he had hoped would happen with Foxconn. The challenge remains in “trying to find a developer or someone that wants to buy up that side of the road.”

Since 2003, the land has been used as a horse boarding stable: Windy Hill Equestrian Center LLC. On the property is a two-story 3,754-square-foot home with four bedrooms, a horse barn, a 2½-car garage, an indoor riding arena and several out buildings, according to its listing on BearRealty.com.

A developer, however, most likely wouldn’t care about all that. They would care about the 30 acres of developable land.

Mark Gregory, a real estate agent at First Weber Real Estate, said the real value of the property likely is in the land and its location, the Racine Journal Times reported.

“You’re not necessarily selling the house,” said Gregory, who is certified in selling larger homes. “Since it’s next to Foxconn, potential buyers are thinking, ‘What could go there?’ ”

Haubrich said, without Foxconn, the property “would probably be worth $1.5 million,” less than half its current listed price.

So, what could be there?

According to Samuel Schultz, community development director for the Village of Mount Pleasant, the property is zoned for general agriculture.

But the future plan for the property allows a prospective developer to come in and ask for it to be residential.

As for shifting it to a commercial space, Schultz said the prospective developer must work with the village to submit applications that would amend current plans.

“If someone wanted to build a restaurant or retail space, it depends,” Schultz said.

Under its current agricultural zoning, Schultz said the property could be used for agritourism — defined as “a commercial enterprise at a working farm, ranch, or agricultural plant conducted for the enjoyment of visitors that generates supplemental income for the owner” — which blends in some commercial uses.

For example, village guidelines allow for entertainment that involves farms, such as petting zoos, or even wineries and breweries that use the farm to make their products. Even a restaurant can go there, the guidelines say, as long as it has some relation to agriculture.
Schultz said what might go there must be “what the market determines as possible, and what the community wants.”

“The property could go either way,” Haubrich said. “It could be more housing, or be a more commercial development.”

Haubrich added he had heard Foxconn is considering building or designing electric cars at the Mount Pleasant campus last month, but production at the campus still has fallen far short of expectations.

But as far as buying the $3.9 million property? “Foxconn hasn’t made an offer,” Haubrich said.

The property is home to Windy Hill Equestrian Center. Samantha Lauf, who owns it with her family, said the development of Foxconn took her and her family by surprise.

“We never expected to lose our neighbors,” Lauf said, referring to the eradication of homes to build Foxconn’s facility. “When you take away the farmland, you can never put it back. What do you do when there’s nothing left?”

Lauf said she didn’t want the farm to be around apartment complexes, or be right across the street from a fast food restaurant, so the family put the property up for sale — even if “our last intention is to sell it.”

The listing was posted in December. Lauf said Haubrich had been contacted by developers, but nothing serious.

“If it takes a year or two, we’ll still be here,” Haubrich said. “They have their farm. If we sell it, fine. If we don’t, they’ll still have their business there.”

Added Lauf: “We have no intention of leaving. But if someone comes along and pays what we’re asking, it’ll take us one year to move…

“The 3.9 million is on the high end,” Lauf said. “It’s our ‘We don’t want to sell it’ price. … We want to continue our business, but we have to be cognizant of that’s going on around us.”

In fall 2020, Lauf said the family purchased 30 acres of land in Franksville to grow hay for the horses. It could be a new boarding facility for them, Lauf said, but it’s going to be tough to leave the customers — and the property, which they’d worked hard on expanding — in Mount Pleasant.

“We don’t want people to panic leave,” Lauf said of her clients, who board horses at the property. “We’re here as long as we can be. My concern is we’ll get pushed out. I’d prefer it being our choice to leave.”

A number of others who had homes near where Foxconn is now say they were “misled” about the project and pushed into selling and moving. Kim Mahoney, who nearly won a 2020 election to serve on the Racine County Board, and her husband are the only homeowners left within the Foxconn area that Windy Hill Equestrian Center LLC is across the street from.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Lauf said of the situation. “We’ve put blood, sweat and tears into this.”

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