Big boxes

    Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

    The big-box commercial development at the interchange of Interstate 43 and Highway 60 in Grafton has both detractors and supporters, but one thing is certain: the flock of retailers is changing the community.
    When completed, the interchange will be a shopping hub for the area, said Darrell Hofland, village administrator for Grafton.
    Some area business owners acknowledge the existing and proposed big-box and discount stores do not compete directly with their own, but they are still concerned development at the interchange will draw people away from downtown Grafton stores. Others are looking forward to the development to take advantage of the new stores.
    "The plan commission and the village board recognize that this is one of the first largely undeveloped interchanges north of the Milwaukee area," said Hofland. "The development is an area for a potential large tax base for village residents, and the plan commission’s concern is to raise the development bar to ensure long-term economic health of the area."
    Currently, the southwest quadrant of the I-43 and Highway 60 interchange holds a Target, a Home Depot, an Office Max, a Charcoal Grill Rotisserie restaurant and a multi-tenant commercial building with tenants including Subway, Cost Cutters and Hot Wireless.
    A 39-acre parcel of land is available for commercial use south of the Home Depot. Proposed plans for a hotel and banquet facility were recently withdrawn, and the plan commission has yet to receive another proposal.
    Development west of the Target and Home Depot property currently consists of a 64-room Baymont Inn & Suites and a 10,000-square-foot multi-tenant commercial building with three initial tenants: Starbucks, Quiznos Sub and Great Clips, Hofland said. Construction is expected to begin in the spring for a second multi-tenant commercial building that will be 20,000 square feet.
    A proposed 135,000-square-foot Sam’s Club on the northeast corner of Highway 60 and Port Washington Road will sit on 74 acres of land owned by Fiduciary Real Estate Development. Seven additional buildings will be built on the property totaling 371,000 square feet of commercial development. One building has been identified as an Applebee’s restaurant, Hofland said.
    A Dairy Queen and a Citgo reside on the northwest corner of Highway 60 and Port Washington Road on the same corner where 28 acres of undeveloped land is available for commercial use.
    A proposal for a hotel with an indoor/outdoor water park and a separate proposal for a medical facility have gone before the plan commission, yet no plan has been approved. Hofland declined to disclose the name of the hotel chain.
    In the southeast quadrant of the interchange, a 142,000-square-foot Costco with a fueling facility for members has been proposed, and the land is available for purchase from the village.
    Recently, a 92,000-square-foot Colder’s opened in the northeast quadrant of the interchange. Because of wetlands, no other commercial development will occur on the property, Hofland said.
    "The village has limited the area that is proposed to be commercial in order to maintain a higher quality type of development and in order to maintain traffic levels," Hofland said. "Most residents expressed concern that a ‘Bluemound (Road) situation’ could arise from an additional possible area of commercial zoning. Subsequently the village limited the amount of proposed acreage for commercial development."
    Some area businesses encourage the commercial growth because their own businesses can benefit from development.
    "Some projects going on out there have been our designs, so it has been good for business," said Dave Strachota, a partner at New Horizon Ventures LLC. "As a resident, I am excited that we are going to have some more choices of businesses to do local business with, rather than go outside of the area."
    Strachota said he is looking forward to the Sam’s Club. He is a member and currently has to drive to Milwaukee to utilize the cost savings and selection.
    Thomas Sweet, president of Moraine Environmental, said he sees the development as something that will breed competition among new businesses and enable existing businesses to utilize Home Depot, Sam’s Club and Costco to save money on overhead.
    "There are going to be negative views in terms of small business, but the area is going to bring employment and a total change from every standpoint," Sweet said. "Even transportation is going to change. We are going to see hotels crop up and see things we never thought we would have before."
    The Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce released a neutral statement about the development, but Mike Donahue, president of the chamber, said the organization does not want to drive away members just to create a new one.
    "As the chamber, we obviously encourage development and promote the business community as a whole. Our concern is making sure that our current members stay healthy," Donahue said. "We have had opinions across the board from our members. We don’t want businesses to come to the area that have a negative impact, but on the other hand, we do want to encourage business development."
    Arlene McDaniel owns Heim’s Shoe Store, which is a small independent business in Grafton. She sees the development as only a shopping area for big stores.
    "Sometimes I think the development is going too fast, and the village is not taking into consideration everything as a development and a village," McDaniel said. "They say it is progress. I am not for it or against it, but I wish the village would be a little more open. A lot of it is over and done and decided before we hear about it."
    Some area businesses have voiced growing concerns that the commercial development at the I-43 and Highway 60 interchange is taking away customers from independently owned businesses in the downtown Grafton area.
    Sara McCutcheon, who owns Silk Screen Specialists, Inc., located in downtown Grafton, said she sees the need for the development, but she feels Grafton has lost its small town feel.
    "Colder’s has gone up, Target has gone up, Home Depot has gone up. And at this point, why not a Costco or a Sam’s Club?" McCutcheon said. "The Sentry and Kmart have already closed. I am very mixed. The village is trying to develop the downtown and is working hard, yet there are not a lot of things left to bring people downtown. We need things that are going to draw people, and I don’t know a lot of businesses that are willing to make an investment downtown when there are developments elsewhere."
    The village has a continued downtown redevelopment plan that will include streetscape enhancements such as decorative concrete and streetlights and street furniture in 2005. The village will complete a design in 2005 for a downtown plaza that will begin construction in 2006, Hofland said. The downtown plaza will include an area for small festivals and a fountain.
    Some areas downtown need residential development to be completed first to even support more retail, Hofland said. So far, plans for condominium development downtown are in the works, including a 44-unit project on the Milwaukee River.
    "Some residents have expressed interest in the village redeveloping at an even faster pace, but some have expressed concern that the village is moving too fast," Hofland said. "An old adage is that people love progress, but they hate change. The village is hearing that concern."
    February 4, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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    Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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