CROSS PLAINS -- When the reconstruction of Highway 14 was completed in 2015, it resulted in a wider street with turn lanes, lighting and an overall better look and traffic flow through this village's downtown.
It helped complement the $5.4 million, 45-unit Zander Place apartment building that opened in 2014 on the village's west side and spurred Esser Place, a $6.5 million, 45-unit apartment building that opened late last month on the site of what had been the village's lone hardware store.
But for the owners of Cross Plains Pharmacy, the street project and development in the village is causing a disruption.
The roadwork removed some on-street parking near the pharmacy's only handicap-accessible entrance, and there has been talk of condominiums being constructed on the site the pharmacy has called home since 1988. So Lisa Kostecki, who co-owns the pharmacy with her father, Eugene Kostecki, is moving the 45-year-old business to a 2,000-square-foot space about 150 feet to the west.
The new digs, on the ground floor of Esser Place, will provide easy access, better visibility, a convenient parking lot and is designed to help the family-owned business stay competitive with the Walgreens down the street. The new location adds to the upgrades that have elevated this commuter village in recent years.
"I'm hoping it will be beneficial to our business," Lisa Kostecki said. "It's a great community, and people are looking for nice communities to raise their families."
Cross Plains is just minutes from Middleton and one of the fastest-growing villages in the state. Between 2015 and 2016 the village grew by 3.8 percent, ahead of Verona (3.8 percent) and Fitchburg (3.3 percent), according to estimates released in May by the U.S. Census Bureau. Since 2010, an 8.9 percent population increase pushed the county to 531,273 people in 2016.
And Cross Plains is feeling the growth. Other projects that have recently appeared in the village of 3,538 people include a 53-unit apartment building on Bourbon Road and a 43-home Veridian Homes housing development on the east side. The Kwik Trip was recently expanded and, when Esser Place was built on the True Value Hardware store that had been there since the 1960s, Glen Wipperfurth, co-owner of Kalschuer Implement Co., came forward with a plan for a replacement.
The 6,480-square-foot hardware store is planned on the village’s west side, adjacent to the implement and lawn and garden businesses at the corner of Main and Water streets. Work has not yet started on the project but will likely be completed in 2018, according to officials.
Tom Pientka, owner of Tukka Properties, developed Zander Place and Esser Place and sees great potential for the village. He's also hoping to add an upscale restaurant next door to the pharmacy in a 4,000-square-foot space that includes an outdoor patio that overlooks Black Earth Creek.
"I think anytime you have a major highway reconstruction you revitalize a town. The infrastructure makes such a difference," said Pientka, who also co-owns Iconica Construction with his brother, Jim. "When there's a reinvestment, along comes upgrades. This (Esser Place) spot was kind of blighted. Nobody ever wanted to lose (the hardware store), and we won't. It will be here soon, and that lead to another opportunity."
First-floor apartments at Esser Place feature 10-foot ceilings. Rents per month range from $900 for a studio to $1,300 for a one-bedroom and $1,500 for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. Hooty's Bar & Grill and Salon Fido are across the street and the new apartment building along with the other housing projects could help create more business opportunities in the village that is part of the Middleton-Cross Plains School District.
"Not everybody wants to be in Middleton," said Pientka, who for the past 25 years has lived between Middleton and Cross Plains. "I remember coming to town often and seeing how unfortunate it was that this community didn't have more to offer."