Joe Bartolotta rarely has a plan when deciding to open a new restaurant, but over the last 23 years he has rarely been wrong.
Bartolotta grew up in Wauwatosa and opened his first restaurant, Ristorante Bartolotta, in The Village area of Wauwatosa in 1993.
More recently, he decided to partner with Phoenix Hospitality Group to open four restaurants in The Mayfair Collection development northeast of U.S. Highway 45 and Burleigh Street in Wauwatosa. The scope of the mixed-use project convinced Bartolotta that restaurants would do well there.
“There are going to be 1,100 apartments built here in two-and-a-half years,” Bartolotta said. “There is going to be a lot of density, and we’re going to be in the heart of it. I’ve learned that to be successful, you have to have a lot of bodies around you.”
Bartolotta’s first restaurant at the development, Osgood’s, opened in November. The other three, located at 11200 W. Burleigh St., across the parking lot from Whole Foods in a 17,000-square-foot building owned by Phoenix, began opening in June with ABV Social, a sports bar with an emphasis on craft beers and creative bar food. Café Grace, a French café, and Taqueria El Jefe, a Mexican restaurant, will open this summer.
The restaurants are a small piece of The Mayfair Collection, a mixed-use project at the former site of Kohl’s and Roundy’s warehouses. Chicago-based HSA Commercial Real Estate has been working on the 69-acre development project for several years.
Phase one of Mayfair Collection, which opened in 2014, includes Nordstrom Rack, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th and other stores. The second phase includes a Whole Foods store, a HomeGoods store, the Bartolotta’s restaurants and a Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel.
Beginning in summer 2016, HSA Commercial and its residential development partner, Fiduciary Real Estate Development, will begin phase one of the residential component, which includes 250 apartments at what is being called “The District.” Over the next five years, 1,100 apartments are expected there.
The city of Wauwatosa first envisioned a version of The Mayfair Collection in 2005, when the Wauwatosa Economic Development Corp. commissioned the Burleigh Street Triangle redevelopment plan for the site. At that time, a study determined there was $305 million of untapped purchasing capacity in the trade area near the Burleigh Triangle, which is bordered by Highway 45, Burleigh Street and the Currie Park Golf Course. The study showed the area was well-positioned for upper-end retailers and housing that would attract young, mobile professionals. Based on location, the study also showed the triangle could attract large, modern office space.
Hopes to attract development to the Burleigh Triangle stalled during the Great Recession, and HSA eventually emerged.
In addition to The Mayfair Collection, HSA is working on a smaller retail building on the opposite side of the street at the former Schwaab Inc. stamp factory building at 11415 W. Burleigh St. HSA purchased the property in January 2015, and by the end of the year will redevelop it into a 32,000-square-foot multi-tenant retail building that will complement The Mayfair Collection.
Brenton Schrader, an associate at HSA Commercial Real Estate, said because of the geometry of the Burleigh Triangle, there was not a lot of frontage along Burleigh Street in The Mayfair Collection.
The Schwaab property will offer tenants 4,000 to 12,000 square feet of space along Burleigh, Schrader said. A real estate source who didn’t want to be identified said Verizon Wireless is leasing 4,500 square feet in the east corner of the development.
HSA also purchased a 45,321-square-foot bank-owned property at 3077 N. Mayfair Road in September, which Schrader called the gateway to The Mayfair Collection because it is at the corner of Mayfair and Burleigh. The building is currently occupied by Milwaukee Career College, which has a five-year lease. Schrader is hoping to work with the school to consolidate its operations to one or two floors so HSA can lease space on at least the lower level.
“With all of the shopping draws that have been added to The Mayfair Collection, particularly the restaurant component, we’re starting to find an interest in office tenants who want to become part of the district,” Schrader said. “We would like to explore that interest.”
Last year the city worked with Vandewalle & Associates Inc. to revise the 2005 Burleigh Triangle plan to incorporate The Mayfair Collection and the development planned along Highway 100 (Mayfair Road).
But despite all of the progress, the Burleigh/Highway 100 area is still a work in progress.
The former Ponderosa Steakhouse property at 3161 N. Mayfair Road is in the process of being demolished and although Kin Properties Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida, purchased it in March, there are still no plans for the property.
Kin Properties also owns the At Home store in the former Kmart building at 3201 N. Mayfair Road.
There is also the issue of the abandoned car dealerships at 11221 and 11333 W. Burleigh St. The 5.7-acre property, which sits between the new Meijer store at 11111 W. Burleigh and the HSA stamp factory property, was purchased in 2011 by Ohio-based electronics retailer Micro Center, but never developed.
Paulette Enders, Wauwatosa development director, said the company planned to build a store, but nothing has been on the horizon for years.
That is why the 2015 plan was developed, Enders said: to keep making progress, without a specific timeline.
“Once The Mayfair Collection started to evolve, it raised awareness of the potential in this part of the city,” said Wauwatosa Mayor Kathy Ehley. “That was an area that was stagnant for a long, long time and was an area of concern. Now, we have an incredible amount of options out there, it is busy and we are drawing people from a large radius, which is good.