March 2013

Poised for growth:  Prairie Lakes developers still dreaming big in Sun Prairie

InBusiness Magazine

Talk to Chad Fedler, the energetic VP of Prairie Development, about his company’s ambitious commercial project at the U.S. 151/County C interchange and he may eventually get around to telling you what won’t be part of the shopping center.

 

“When we first laid this out – you like to dream big, right? – one of the thoughts I had was, wouldn’t it be cool if you did an ice-skating rink?” said Fedler. “With the pine trees in the wintertime, you could decorate them, you could make it the center focus of the shopping center. You’d have a place for people to go, and you would have a lot of activity.”

 

Eventually, Fedler says, reality intruded on those plans when it became clear that the cost would be prohibitive. For one thing, the rink would have required a refrigerated sheet of ice, rather than just a flooded pool – and the developers would have had to throw in a Zamboni for good measure in order to keep the ice smooth and skateable.

 

“All of a sudden it was a half-million-dollar idea, and it just wasn’t practical,” said Fedler.

 

So while the company’s decision to abandon that particular dream may mean that Prairie Lakes won’t exactly be Rockefeller Center, the dream itself could be seen as a signal to shoppers that big things are nevertheless coming. Chad Fedler, as well as the two principal partners in the venture, Ron Fedler (Chad’s father) and Jerry Connery, are thinking big, and they’re not merely focused on squeezing as many retailers as they can onto this commercially fertile piece of Sun Prairie farmland.

 

Indeed, throughout the course of a 30-minute interview, Fedler punctuated his answers with words like “character” and “aesthetic appeal” so often, you’d think he was planning a World’s Fair instead of a run-of-the mill shopping center. But as he’d likely be the first to tell you, that’s just the point. The space he envisions won’t be run-of-the-mill. Indeed, his excitement about the development’s landscaping and courtyard elements is as clear an indication as any that he’s not simply interested in another sprawling concrete jungle of big boxes and strip-mall retailers.

 

Case in point: The company has already invested $10 million in landscaping and infrastructure. Its signature Shoppes at Prairie Lakes area, which will be surrounded by five anchors (including the already up-and-running Costco, Target, and Woodman’s, as well as a planned-for 17-plex Marcus Theater), will have as its focal point a 14,000-sq.-ft. courtyard featuring a firepit, a waterfall, and a meandering stream beneath a crosswalk.

 

In addition, the grounds make liberal use of green space, and Fedler sees the wildlife that gathers there as more of a draw than a nuisance.

 

“Coming here, especially in the spring, summer, and fall, it truly is beautiful,” said Fedler. “So you can come to a center, shop, and get everything you need, but as one customer told me, it’s peaceful when you’re walking around out here. And it’s unique. Look at the Target store, look at the stone elements of it. It’s classy, it’s timeless. We expect users to maintain a high degree of architecture.”

 

 

Prairie Development, LTD

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