Plans are being finalized for the expansion of the Waupaca Fleet Farm store.
“It will be approximately four times its current size,” said Ken Frey, director of operations for Mills Fleet Farm. “If you live in Waupaca, our goal is to eliminate any ‘not stocked items in Waupaca.’ Our goal is have available in Waupaca all the items we run in our advertisements.”
The expansion project will take place on the current site, with the existing store remaining open during construction, he said.
“The goal would be to potentially start this process next spring,” Frey said.
Details about the project – the exact square footage and the cost – will be finalized during the next several months. Plans call for the project to be bid out over the winter months.
The addition will include space for both retail and storage. Staffing will increase with a bigger store.
The Waupaca store opened at its present site in 1969.
“We’ve been in the community over 40 years,” Frey said.
The company and the city of Waupaca have talked about an expansion project for a number of years.
Frey said the timing is now right.
“We’ve been cultivating them for awhile,” said City Administrator Henry Veleker.
He said there was an initial discussion with Fleet Farm about seven years ago when the bypass and Tax Incremental Financing District were being planned in that area.
This project will not be in a TIF district.
The city has received a petition from the company to annex its property into the city of Waupaca. The property is currently located in the town of Waupaca.
Veleker said Fleet Farm is petitioning for annexation because it will need city water and sewer for the project.
The town of Waupaca and the state will have to review the petition, he said.
The petition will go before the city’s Plan Commission at its December meeting and will then go before the Common Council for review.
In anticipation of the project, the city has also been working on an amendment to its zoning code for that area of the city.
Next month, that proposal will go before the council for a vote.
“We’ve been developing an interchange zoning district that would allow for some changes to our zoning code that allow for a big box development project,” Veleker said.
The Interchange Zone District will give Fleet Farm what it needs, he said.
“Our zoning was very restrictive on sign height,” Veleker said. “That is one thing being addressed in the amended zoning.”
He said the proposed zoning amendment also includes pedestrian-friendly items like bike rack requirements, due to the investment on the east side with the River Ridge Trail.
“We had design guidelines from seven to eight years ago,” he said.
Today, there are new commercial building materials, which was yet another reason why the city decided to take another look at its ordinance.
“We also looked at parking requirements and tweaked that a little bit. These changes would really make the development work a lot better for Fleet Farm, as well as any other retail development.” Veleker said.
He said the city also envisions hotels, convenience stores and big box retail on that side of the city.
“I think it’s just what we’ve been working so hard to have accomplished on the east side,” Veleker said of the Fleet Farm project.
Frey said, “It will be a very nice facility once it is finished.”