Despite delays, developer hopes to begin construction on Cedar Vineyard this fall
People driving along Highway C on Port Washington’s south side have been expecting to see shovels in the dirt as the proposed Cedar Vineyard subdivision takes shape.
Plans for the subdivision are proceeding, albeit slower than originally expected, developer Tom Swarthout said this week.
Swarthout, president of the Highview Group, said he plans to purchase the 227-acre property off Highway C in August and begin work on the subdivision this fall.
“Things have not gone as quickly as we had hoped,” he said. “Land is a very unique transaction in today’s world. It’s just taking a little longer than we had projected, but we’re close to completing the transaction.
“Everything is falling into place.”
Surveys and engineering for the property are completed, he said, and he hopes to announce a groundbreaking soon.
Negotiations with the City of Port Washington on a developer’s agreement are progressing, he said, and the document could go before the Common Council for approval in the next month or two.
Swarthout said he plans to begin work on grading and utilities on the property this fall, as well as preparation work for streets within the complex.
In spring, the roads can be built and the property prepared for home construction, he said.
Spring is also when the City of Port will extend utilities and make road improvements to the property, City Administrator Mark Grams said.
“He can do his work on the property, and when we extend the utilities next year they can be connected,” he said.
The land, which years ago was slated for an intensive subdivision by VK Development, is primarily on the east side of Highway C between the Kingdom Hall and Stonecroft Drive.
A portion of the property is on the west side of Highway C, south of Stonecroft Drive.
Swarthout said he has reservations for 14 of the 82 lots in the subdivision, virtually all through word of mouth.
“I haven’t advertised,” he said. “Once we start to market the property, I think we’ll be in terrific shape.”
Swarthout said the economy is coming back in southeastern Wisconsin, and his development will benefit from that.
“Port Washington is a gem, and you’re going to see more and more people coming here,” he predicted.
Swarthout, who plans to build a home in the subdivision, said everyone else who has reserved a lot in the subdivision is from the area or has roots in the area.
So far buyers have come from Mequon, Whitefish Bay, Cedarburg and Sheboygan, he said. The farthest away is a Maryland man who grew up in Port Washington.
“It’s a real mix of people,” he said. “We have one couple with an 18-month-old baby, retirees and everything in between. It’s the mix we had hoped for.”
He said he expects that when he markets the site, some buyers will build second homes in the subdivision as well.
Homes aren’t the only attraction for the subdivision.
Within minutes of buying the property, Swarthout said, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust will purchase 102 acres from him for a nature preserve.
That property will preserve the environmentally sensitive Cedar Gorge and Port Washington Clay Bluffs as well as land along the bluff, ensuring public access to the lakefront.
As its name indicates, the subdivision will also be used for a vineyard that will run along Highway C and be developed over five years, as well as a winery developed by Steve and Maria Johnson, who own Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery in Kewaunee and Door 44 Winery in Sturgeon Bay.
Swarthout said orders have already been placed for grapevines that will be planted in the vineyard next spring.
“We have identified the varietals,” Swarthout said, noting two-year-old vines will be delivered from New York State next year.
While he had planned to use a dilapidated barn owned by We Energies for the winery, Swarthout said that building had high levels of lead paint, so it wasn’t used.
Instead, he is working with Ozaukee County to take down a barn it owns in the Town of Saukville this fall and use that structure — supplemented with pieces of another barn — to create the winery.
“It’s in design right now,” he said. “It’s going to be a very cool building. You’ll have oak beams, 125 years old — you can’t replicate that. There’s a certain patina to it.
“It will create a story to the building.”