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Richard, George (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 56, Number 12 (April 15, 1955)

[The University's biggest farm deal],   pp. 20-21

Page 21

this farm in Madison will be supplanted
                by larger acreage north of the city in
University's biggest
NE        OF  THE    larget urban-rural
     real estate deals in the state's his-
     tory now is in the making and it
very directly concerns the University of
  Involved are nearly 600 acres of roll-
ing land on Madison's west side that
have served as the focal point of UW
experimental farming for more than half
a century and a much larger acreage some
30 miles directly north of Madison that
will replace the present UW farm set-up
-and make possible an enlarged scope
of agricultural operation.
  The 600 acres in Madison comprise
the Hill farm, named after the family
originally owning the property, which is
located midway between the campus and
Middleton and between University Ave-
nue and Mineral Point Road to the
   Because of the record growth of the
 city of Madison, the Hill farm has been
 almost completely surrounded by resi-
 dential and building construction. Its
 value has gone up accordingly. The ac-
 companying picture dramatically demon-
 strates the bottleneck effect the property
 has had on Madison's expansion west-
 ward from   its isthmian center. (Inci-
 dentally, development of the area will
 mean a broadened tax base for the city.)
   For some time now an agricultural
 land committee of University Regents-
 Oscar Rennebohm, Wilbur Renk and
 John P. Jones, Jr.-has been working
 on the acquisition and disposition of the
 farm properties. Commerce Prof. Richard
 Ratdiff has been devoting considerable
 time to the Madison land deal and the
 University has also retained a nationally
 known land planner, Carl E. Gardner, to
 help lay out final plans for the Madison
   Although three plans have already
   been prepared-by the state, the city,
   APRIL, 1955
and the FHA-such questions as these
are yet to be answered: How many lots ?
What proportion of large lots to small?
Where will parks be located?
  Two sites seem certain: the far north-
east corner (20 acres) for a shopping
center, and an area in the center, selected
by Madison city education planners, as
the location of a school.
   The University is particularly inter-
ested in selling the shopping center site,
which, a selling brochure states, within
two years will have 5,500 families (aver-
age income: $7,500) living no more
than 5 minutes driving time away. The
20 acres will include 16 for parking,
and eventually may be ringed by office
buildings and apartment houses.
   Why is the University so concerned
 with the platting of the Hill Farm area?
   Simple, says Prof. Ratcliff. First, the
 University wants to get as much as pos-
 sible for the land, and well-planned
 development will make the land more
 valuable to prospective buyers-be they
 builders, individuals or business. Sec-
 ondly, and related to the first reason,
 the University wants to make as great a
 contribution as possible to the city.
   The land will be released, probably,
 over a period of five or six years, with
 50-75 acres in the southeast section
 going up on the block this summer. Prof.
 Ratcliff won't estimate how much money
 the University will get for the land, but
 in March Regent Renk said heatedly that
 the $3 million tag put on it by one State
 Senator was much too high.
   The Senator had used much of that
 nebulous $3 million, by the way, in his
 personal formula for balancing the next
 biennial state budget. Regent Renk noted
 that the University is not very sympathe-
 tic to this idea, either: first, since acquisi-
 tion and development of the new farm
 property near Arlington will probably
cost $11/2 million; and, secondly, since
the sale of the Hill farm will not be
totally consummated in the two years.
  In early March the University acquired
some 468 acres of land in Columbia
and Dane counties and took option on
about the same amount. These were the
first purchases of rural property that may
eventually comprise as much as 2,500
acres and cost up to $800,000. The 468
acres cost $133,578. . . a price not out
of line with values in the area. Another
$700,000 will be needed for buildings.
   Then, if there is any extra cash lying
around, the College of Agriculture, hopes
to use it for research buildings on the
Below is a Madison area map showing loca-
tion of the old Hill Farm and the new UW
farm area north of Madison.

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