US (WI): Kenosha Plan Commission backs plans for indoor garden facility

A food distributor’s plans for a year-round indoor garden facility on Kenosha’s northwest side moved one step closer to reality, following a city panel’s favorable recommendation.

The Plan Commission reviewed and advanced a proposed year-round standalone indoor garden facility adjacent to the existing Gordon Food Service distribution plant at 10901 38th St. GFS plans to partner with Square Roots, an organization specializing in urban farming, in the development. A new 8,715-square-foot facility will be used to grow fresh produce, greens, and herbs.

Gordon has forged similar partnerships with Square Roots at other distribution centers within the U.S., the first taking place two years ago near the company’s Michigan-based corporate headquarters. Down the road, company officials have indicated the new operation could have an educational component, such as workshops on how basil is grown. Partnerships with nearby colleges and universities also were discussed as a possibility.
During deliberations, several members of the panel lauded the plans for the site. Commissioner Lydia Spottswood said she viewed Square Roots’ addition as an example of forward-thinking development.  
“It seems like a brilliant opportunity for more and more of this type of development to happen, given the proximity to Lake Michigan,” Spottswood said. “We’re trying to brand this as a city of innovation, and this is an innovative process.”
According to information commissioners reviewed, the shipping containers will be accessible from inside the building and will include windows cut into the ends of the containers, alongside perforated architectural metal screens along the exposed sidewalls. The companies’ tentative plans state the shipping containers will be stacked two rows high, 10 containers wide. A portion of the facility also will be constructed with more traditional building materials, including a concrete foundation and exterior walls made of insulated metal.
“This is a really interesting, adaptive reuse,” Spottswood said.

The City Council, which has the final say on the proposal, will take up the Plan Commission’s recommendation and could act on it in July.

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