Developers unveil Drexel Town Square plans

Oak Creek officials and private developers unveiled Tuesday night more details about their plan to build a new downtown.

As first reported by BizTimes in December
, the Drexel Town Square project will be anchored by a new Meijer store. The 85-acre project will be developed at the vacant site of the former Delphi plant.

The endeavor will be a “hybrid” mixed-use project that will bring $150 million to $160 million in development over the next five years, creating more than 4,000 jobs.

Also first reported by BizTimes, the Oak Creek project has attracted an all-star lineup of several of the Milwaukee area’s premier commercial real estate developers, including WisPark, WiRED Properties, Barrett Visionary Development and Zilber Ltd.

“It is rare that a community the age of Oak Creek can reinvent itself,” said Blair Williams, president at WiRed Properties, who will develop the “main street” at the site that will include a new city hall and library. “This is a story that you’ll be able to tell for generations.”

Developers said the site will be a “coffee to cocktails” destination that will be “walkable and sustainable” and will include high-end restaurants, a brewery pub, a fitness center, medical offices, high-end apartments and more.

Developer Rick Barrett, owner of Barrett Visionary Development, said the 500 to 600 apartments that he plans to build at the site will be built in three phases.

Developers said the new Interstate 94 freeway interchange at Drexel Avenue, which feeds traffic directly to the site, is critical to the project’s success.

Jerry Franke, president of WisPark, the commercial real estate development arm of Wisconsin Energy Corp., said the city received a proposed contract from Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer Inc. on Monday. Meijer plans to develop a 192,000-square-foot store to anchor the project. No contracts have been signed yet for the project, Franke said.

The Meijer store part of the project is controversial as some in Oak Creek say a big box store does not fit in with the community’s vision for a mixed-use downtown area at the former Delphi site. However, the developers for the project say a major anchor is necessary to drive traffic to the site and to attract other retail tenants.

Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi said the city will conduct a public information meeting to gather comments from citizens about what they want to see at the new downtown on Monday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. Developers will be on hand to answer questions and hear suggestions from the public.

Read more about the Drexel Town Square project discussion at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting at Oak Creek Patch, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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