Voit Farm on Madison’s east side sits on 65 acres of prime property. It’s surrounded by residential neighborhoods and an Amazon distribution center, making it an appealing site for new, large-scale developments.
In January, the site officially went up for sale — for $11.5 million dollars, or more than $175,000 per acre.
Now, Save the Farm — a local nonprofit — hopes to purchase the property for preservation and restoration. The group was formed with the specific purpose of saving Voit Farm from large-scale commercial development.
Colleen Robinson, who sits on the organization’s Board of Directors, says that they want to transform the acreage into a mixture of affordable housing, conservation and farming. But, first they have to actually acquire the land.
“Details of the restoration and exactly what’s needed and how that would take place have not been developed yet,” Robinson told WORT. “It’s a bit difficult before site control to be able to know precisely what needs to happen and the state of things on the land.”
On Thursday the group will be presenting its proposal to city planning staff in a closed meeting. Robinson says that the presentation will give Save the Farm an opportunity to weigh city input and proposals on the project.
That input could prove crucial in the near-future, as Save the Farm is hoping to secure support from the city and county to purchase Voit Farm.
Said Robinson: “If we have that support and it is promised support by some key players like the county, city and community…then we can put in an offer to purchase that gives the Voits some assurance that there are some dedicated, reputable players in here.”
Nearly half of the overall project — 32 acres — will be saved for conservation. Lance Green, another member of Save the Farm’s board of directors, says the preservation will be accessible to residents, and double as a public park.
“The whole Voit property is a little over 67 acres, and the northern half of it — about 32 acres — is actually not developable, because a large part of it is wetland or a hundred-year flood plain area,” Green says. He adds that conserving the 32-acre wetland could aid in controlling stormwater run-off.
“The difference between our plan and that of the Milwaukee Street special area plan, or if a developer just plopped in there, is a whole lot more streets, buildings, driveways and parking lots that would create a whole lot more run-off into Starkweather that would have to be controlled somehow.”
The farm technically falls outside Madison’s city lines — and in the nearby town of Blooming Grove. But, Blooming Grove is set to be annexed by Madison by 2027.
Robinson says that, even if Save the Farm does acquire the Voit property, it will likely take an additional three to five years before the project is fully up and running.
(PHOTO: Voit Farm, C/O Save the Farm)