Bilt-Rite plans to leave Mitchell Street for Greenfield

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 11:00 am

After 56 years at its Mitchell Street location in Milwaukee, Bilt-Rite Furniture plans to relocate to a new building the family-owned business wants to build at 5430 W. Layton Ave. in Greenfield.
The store is proposed for a site that has been vacant for almost two years. It was used as a storage site by TIP Trucking most recently and had been the former site for an American Science and Surplus store in the late 1980s.
Ted Larson, owner of Church and Chapel Funeral Home, had sought approval to develop a new funeral home on the site, but Greenfield officials denied his request.
Bilt-Rite Furniture started in 1928 and has been located at 723 W. Mitchell St. since 1948, said store manager Maureen Komisar.
It was a difficult decision to leave that location, she said.
"I think we will all cry the day we leave this building," Komisar said. "Our names are all on the wall from when we were kids. It’s a hard decision. We loved the location for many years. It has served us well. But, we would like to become more efficient and customer-friendly."
Bilt-Rite has submitted preliminary plans to Greenfield officials for a 50,000-square-foot building with a 38,000-square-foot showroom, 9,600 square feet of warehouse space and 2,400 square feet of office space.
The Greenfield location would provide more space and a large amount of free parking for customers, which is not available on the historic, urban Mitchell Street, Komisar said.
The new building also would improve shipping efficiency, she said.
"Having parking for customers is a nice asset," Komisar said. "You want customers to be able to pull up to a lot with free parking."
The store has grown over the years and now occupies four adjacent buildings between 723-735 N. Mitchell Street. The buildings, each of which are about 100 years old, are connected, but their floors do not line up evenly. Three of the buildings have two floors, and another has four floors. Combined, the four buildings have about 40,000 square feet of space.
The proposed Greenfield store would have only one floor to make it easier for customers to get around, Komisar said.
The family plans to sell the Mitchell Street buildings after the furniture store moves.
"They are beautiful old buildings," Komisar said. "We have had some interest from different people in the past that have asked us (to sell)."
Mitchell Street is still a good place to do business, in part because residents in the densely populated area have a large amount of collective buying power, Komisar said. Nearby neighborhoods, including the Historic Third Ward, the Fifth Ward and Bay View, have attracted redevelopment.
Across the street from Bilt-Rite, Gorman & Co. Inc. of Madison redeveloped the former Kunzelmann-Esser Furniture Co. building into 67 loft apartments.
Komisar said she is confident someone will find a new use for the Bilt-Rite buildings as well.
"There are many talented individuals out there doing great things with old buildings," she said.
International Autos plans to bring a Mercedes-Benz dealership to Waukesha, which would be only the second Mercedes dealership in the metropolitan Milwaukee area.
The Waukesha Mercedes dealership will be located at 2315 E. Moreland Boulevard, in the former Steinhafels furiture store building. Steinhafels vacated the 26,000-square-foot building earlier this year when it moved to a massive new store at Interstate 94 and Highway 164. International Autos plans to expand the former Steinhafels building to 45,000 square feet for the Mercedes dealership.
The only other Mercedes-Benz dealership in the region is the Concours Motors Inc. dealership at 1400 W. Silver Spring Drive in Glendale. Concours plans to move its Mercedes sales from that site to a dealership it plans to build in a former printing facility at 5100 W. Brown Deer Road in Brown Deer.
Oak Creek
Office Max plans to build a 20,000-square-foot store at 9001 S. Howell Ave., adjacent to an existing Kohl’s store. The development also will include an additional 4,140 square feet of space for other tenants. The developer for the project is Continental Properties of Menomonee Falls. The closest existing Office Max store to the site is about nine miles away at 3555 S. 27th St. in Milwaukee.
PDQ plans to build a 6,000-square-foot gas station and convenience store at 6300 S. 27th St. The project was excluded from the city’s 27th Street building moratorium because city officials have been reviewing it for some time, Oak Creek planner Jeff Fortin said.
An 8,200-square-foot building is planned for Midwest Dialysis and Royal Limousine. The structure will be built at 7420 S. Howell Ave. in the Oak Creek Commerce Center. Midwest Dialysis will occupy 5,754 square feet for administrative offices, and Royal Limousine will occupy 3,128 square feet.
John and Marion Kuether plan to construct a 3,400-square-foot building in the South Pier District and open a salon and spa there. The South Pier District is on a peninsula between the Sheboygan River and Lake Michigan and is where the Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center opened earlier this year.
Ed and Amy Seckinger and Jane Howe recently opened an upscale restaurant called Piano Blu at 179 W. Wisconsin Ave., in downtown Pewaukee on the Pewaukee lakefront. The restaurant owners are leasing the entire 5,000-square-foot, two-story building owned by Jim Siepmann.
"It has amazing lake views over Pewaukee Lake," Amy Seckinger said. "The interior design, we call ‘city life with Lake Country charm.’ When you come in, you feel like you are in Chicago or New York. We don’t have anything like this out here."
The selections on the menu come in smaller portions, similar to a tapas style, Seckinger said. Piano Blu has a seven-foot grand piano that will be played by a live artist or automatically. The upstairs room includes a Rhinoceros head from South Africa. The room, called the Rhino Room, will be available to rent for private events.
Walgreens plans to build a store at 423 Merton Ave. on the site of a former Hardee’s restaurant. The vacant restaurant building will be demolished to make way for the Walgreens store.
Aldi plans to build a 15,000-square-foot store at 2027 E. Geneva St.
A 26,330-square-foot multi-tenant retail building will be built at 12132 W. Capitol Drive. MSI General Corporation is designing and building the building. The 52,000-square- foot former Mobile Shredding Services building on the property was recently demolished.
Andrew Weiland is the managing editor of Small Business Times. Send news about commercial real estate to or by calling him at (414) 277-8181 ext. 120. News can also be sent to Andrew Weiland, Small Business Times, 1123 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.
October 29, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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Dr. Daniel A. Schroeder is President/CEO of Organization Development Consultants, Inc. (ODC). ODC serves regional and national clients from its offices in suburban Milwaukee. Additionally, he teaches in the Organizational Behavior and Leadership (bachelor’s) and Organization Development (master’s) programs at Edgewood College (Madison, WI), programs that he founded and for which he served as Program Director.

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