One thing real estate professionals and elected officials have in common is the necessity to predict the future.
Where development will occur, what it will be, are just as important to an agent selling land as it is to a county chairperson or city mayor tasked to decide how their community should grow.
So we asked an agent, a city mayor and a county chairperson to predict the future.
Two of them see an increase in commercial and residential development in the Lake Geneva area.
Walworth County Chairwoman Nancy Russell thinks there will be more attractions like the Ice Castle.
Last winter, the Castle was built on Riviera Beach, drawing thousands to the area.
“Since the Ice Castle was so popular and increased tourism at the local hotels, I anticipate more of that type of attraction,” she said.
She also speculates franchises like Outback Steakhouse and Trader Joe’s would be successful in Lake Geneva.
Russell and Gary Dunham, of Keefe Real Estate, believe there is also a shortage of housing opportunities.
“Lake Geneva currently suffers from a lack of subdivisions for single-family homes, for individual builders/buyers who would like to build single-family homes,” said Dunham.
He sees more housing and businesses coming into Lake Geneva.
The two most active city corridors, said Dunham, are from Broad Street to Highway 120 and South Edwards Boulevard, with the homes east of Broad and north of Main seeing “the largest price increases in the past three years.”
He thinks the largest changes in the next five to 30 years will be along the boulevard.
“There’s a four-lane road and over a thousand acres on it, which will be the next Lake Geneva in the coming decades,” Dunham said.
Whatever happens in Lake Geneva, its mayor assures it will go according to a vision and a plan — the city’s comprehensive plan, which officials are currently reviewing.
“What development occurs will be driven by what the city wants and can manage,” said Lake Geneva Mayor Tom Hartz.
He said the city will ask its citizens to give input into the plan, a document which states what types of development can go where in the community, as well as areas in which the city can grow.
Land is one of the city’s resource, said Hartz, and land Lake Geneva already has — known as “infill property” — is where development will start.
“It could be as small as a vacant lot in our neighborhoods or as large as one of the currently approved developments at our perimeter, and everything in between,” he said. “Just in my neighborhood alone, we had five houses in a two-block area that were substantially renovated this last year. That is development. That is development on land we already have ready to go.”
Dunham also thinks small commercial and residential projects will go on infill properties.
He recognized current larger projects in Lake Geneva, such as Symphony Bay near South Edwards Boulevard; Summerhaven off Lake Geneva Boulevard; and an addition to Stone Ridge, off Center Street.
“I believe there will be some investor developers making subdivision lots available to individual builders or home buyers,” he said.
In addition to more retail services along South Edwards Boulevard, Dunham also sees more apartments, condos and single-family homes going there.
More business and more homes invariably means more people, and Russell brought up a long-standing issue in Lake Geneva — parking.
“I believe parking solutions would go a long way to accommodating tourism, and would make the Riviera and Horticultural Hall more successful,” she said.
“Valet parking at those facilities would be particularly useful from Memorial Day through Venetian Fest.”
She suggested that valets could park cars at the Public Works area in northern Lake Geneva.
But will more people live in Lake Geneva in the future?
“The biggest problem will be attracting and housing employees, particularly in the Geneva Lake area,” said Russell.