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The former tourist information center on the south side of I-94 in Hudson has been vacant since the spring of 2009. A group of local real estate investors has purchased the 16.2-acre site and plans to develop it for commercial use.

Owners petition to rezone tourist center property

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The new owners of the former tourist information center on Interstate 94 in Hudson have petitioned the city to rezone the 16.2-acre property from public use to general business district.

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The City Council on Monday night referred the petition to the Plan Commission and set a public hearing on the request for 6:50 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12.

The Plan Commission is expected to review the petition at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11.

The council sent the petition to the Plan Commission as part of its consent agenda, without discussion. The commission will make a recommendation on whether the council should rezone the property.

David Robson, one of four partners in Hudson Center LLC, the company that purchased the property from the state of Wisconsin for a little more than $1.25 million, was present for the council action.

He left the meeting, without speaking, after the consent agenda was approved.

In their application to rezone the property, the partners said they "would like to develop the site with different commercial-oriented businesses that would complement the area and add to the city of Hudson."

The application says the site is "surrounded by current B-2 general business zoning districts, which makes this rezoning a good fit."

The former tourist information center is directly north of the Walmart store on Crest View Drive. The irregularly shaped property lies between Crest View and the freeway, from O'Keefe Road to Gateway Boulevard.

When the state accepted the bid on the property last May, a spokesman for the partners said they might reserve some of the property for public use, such as a commuter bus stop or university building.

But partner Brian Zeller didn't mention a public use for the property (other than 1.8 acres for storm water drainage) when he reported that Hudson Center LLC finalized the purchase on Sept. 19.

"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves and make any assumptions about what the city is going to be open to," Zeller said. "We want to work with the city and make sure we're all on the same page."

He said the partners intended to have a study done of the traffic issues related to the property and work with the city to address any concerns.

The state closed the tourist information center in the spring of 2009, citing a decline in visitor numbers.

Visits to the center dropped off after the direct access to it from I-94 was closed in 1993.

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