When news broke before the holidays of a proposal to develop the vacant Union Corners property into a Ho-Chunk museum, with a health care center, housing, gas station and retail, many people were thrilled that something might finally happen with the 15-acre vacant parcel on East Washington Avenue.
While a casino is improbable, might the property be taken off the tax rolls, or become a presumably high-traffic destination for people seeking cheaper cigarettes?
Anne Thundercloud, a spokeswoman for the Ho-Chunk Nation, says speculation about the project is premature. While a Nation member, James Green, has pitched the idea of buying the site, the Ho-Chunk leadership has not taken it up.
"I guess we're not closed to the idea," she says. "But these are the preliminary plans of an individual."
Madison City Attorney Michael May says merely selling the parcel to the tribe would not make it tax-exempt. "Generally speaking, unless it's put into the federal trust, which I don't think it would qualify for that, it would remain on the tax rolls."
Convenience stores on tribal land, including near the Ho-Chunk casino in Wisconsin Dells, sell cigarettes for lower prices due to tax-break agreements.