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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: Wisconsin

Downtown Development Plan
Bringing People Back Downtown
Hawk's Landing
(Dane County)
Isolated Houses Add Traffic, Kill Open Space

Downtown Development Plan
Bringing People Back Downtown

The development plan for downtown Racine demonstrates how communities can revitalize their city centers, even after decades of stagnation. The plan includes new housing, a lakefront hotel, office buildings, parks, retail stores and cultural resources. The developers recognize that the value of a vital city center extends outward to the farm land that is no longer threatened by suburban sprawl, to open space that will be preserved, and to residents who will enjoy a higher quality of life.

An important component of the plan is to attract people back to the downtown by building row houses, small-lot, single-family homes and condominium-style apartments. An old YMCA will be converted into housing for senior citizens.

With changes to the streets and sidewalks that will make the area more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, residents of the downtown will have less reason to drive. For commuters needing to reach points beyond Racine, the plan includes a restoration of commuter rail service to Milwaukee and Chicago, and a new bus transit center in the heart of downtown.

Fewer cars means fewer parking lots -- and this has spurred developers to replace a large parking lot and boat ramp with a 3.5-acre waterfront green space connected to the city center by a three-block-long parkway. Also, a two-mile pedestrian and bike path will wrap around downtown Racine along Lake Michigan and the Root River. Green spaces will be publicly owned and protected in perpetuity.

The business community has not been ignored. One of the first major developments announced after the completion of the downtown plan was a five-story office building designed by William McDonough, an internationally known "green" architect. In fact, the business community has shown its enthusiasm for the project by investing more than $50 million since the plan was adopted.

Hawk's Landing
(Dane County)
Isolated Houses Add Traffic, Kill Open Space

Although it has a Madison address, the only thing that connects Hawk's Landing to the larger city is a sewer line -- the development is actually located miles from town.

Chewing Up the Countryside: This 575-acre development will be built far from existing communities on farm land and open space.

The 575-acre development is located on rolling hills that were predominantly farm land and forest. Far from public transportation and surrounded by working farms, the development will harm these rural lands by adding an estimated 10,000 car trips per day.

Of course, some walking is available in the community -- to, from and around the golf course. Home prices reflect the golf course lifestyle, with prices starting at $250,000 -- over $50,000 more than the average price for a home in Madison and Dane County. In addition to the environmental nightmare of maintaining a golf course, the development is likely to cause severe stormwater runoff and groundwater contamination.

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments

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