City Talks With New Developer About Blackhawk Land

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MTT News Desk's picture
Matt Geiger

Is a parcel of city-owned land on the edge of Pleasant View Golf course worth a million dollars, or is it’s fair market value closer to $200,000? The answer depends on whom you ask.

The City of Middleton and multiple local developers remain far apart on the true value of the roughly three-acre parcel on Blackhawk Road. However, the city is currently in what one source called “deep negotiations” with two people who wish to build there.

Don Michelson, a commercial real estate advisor, and Bob Harriman, of R.G. Harriman General Contractors, wish to buy the land and build seven three- and four-unit buildings, for a total of 25 units. Michelson and Harriman gave a presentation to the Middleton City Council on Feb. 5, laying out the reasons they believe a purchase price of $208,000 would be reasonable. 

They hope to acquire the land, build the structures and begin leasing them out by the end of this year.

This is not the first offer  - or the second - for the land. In September, for the second time in 2012, the Middleton City Council unanimously rejected an offer from developer Tom Goff, of Goff Construction and Real Estate. Goff had offered $90,000 the first time around and $200,000 in his second proposal.

The property is directly adjacent to Middleton’s municipal golf course and directly north of the Blackhawk subdivision in Madison.

The city council early in 2012 voted 7-1 to push forward with its attempt to sell the land.

The land would be developed on community septic because Middleton and the City of Madison – already at odds over Middleton’s use of Tax Increment Financing - could not come to terms on an agreement to extend Madison’s urban services to the land.

The city hoped the sale would bring in upwards of $1 million. The money would help lighten the burden created by roughly $8 million in debt stemming from Pleasant View Golf Course.

Michelson, who lives in the Town of Middleton and works in the City of Middleton, said his plan was crafted to be “harmonious” with the Blackhawk neighborhood.

“I think we put together a really good plan,” Michelson said after last week’s meeting. “But in the end it’s going to come down to what the council is comfortable with.”

Michelson said he and Harriman are not seeking Tax Increment Financing for their proposal. “It’s a level playing field – no subsidies,” he said. “We want to write a check.”

Michelson declined to comment on the status of his discussions with the city, saying he, Harriman and Middleton are “still in deep negotiations.”

“We do know it would be a great project,” he stated.

During last week’s city council meeting, Harriman told the council he believed the land had an initial retail value of about $1 million. However, Harriman said a long list of reductions, including one based on the fact that the development would be reliant on a community well and septic system, make the real value $208,000. 

Harriman said comparable land sales in the area support his claim.

“The fact that is has a well and septic will always depress the value of that property,” Harriman told the council.  

District 5 alderman Howard Teal hit on one of the oldest adages in real estate: location, location, location: “What’s the value you apply to the [land being located] on a golf course – simply for being on a golf course … what’s it worth?”

Harriman declined to provide a dollar figure at the meeting, but he offered to send one to city staff within “24 hours.” 


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