Entrepreneur Acquires Prime Sites Along I-43

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

Brian Monroe, managing partner of Mequon-based GM Real Estate Enterprises LLC, and other partners have acquired several properties totaling about 30 acres near Interstate 43 and north of Capitol Drive, for about $2.3 million. About three acres are in Milwaukee, and the rest are in Glendale. They acquired 19 acres of undeveloped property straddling I-43 from Chicago-based CMC Heartland Partners.
Those properties can be accessed from Green Bay Avenue and Port Washington Road. The partners also acquired a 4.5 acre site along Port Washington Road from Danisco, which abandoned that property, which has 50,000 square feet of industrial space in several buildings, in 2004. They also acquired a 6.3-acre property with 175,000 square feet of industrial space in two buildings from Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. The building was abandoned by Becker Foods in 2004.
The timing was right to acquire the properties, Monroe said. CMC was eager to sell the land after the City of Milwaukee condemned and acquired 140 acres CMC owned in the Menomonee Valley, he said.
"It was their last piece (of land)
in the Milwaukee area," Monroe
said. "They just wanted to get
out of Dodge. They wanted a cash deal to be completed by the end
of the year, and we were able to accommodate them."
In addition, the former Becker Foods site did not fit in with Northwestern Mutual’s portfolio of investment properties, Monroe said.
"The guy handling that portfolio was retiring, and he just wanted to clean things up," he said.
Monroe and his partners will demolish the buildings on the properties and plan to do a mixed use development which could include retail, office and industrial space.
A service business from Minnesota, which Monroe declined to name, is thinking about establishing a location on one of the properties. The company already has eight locations in the state, Monroe said.
The properties are highly visible and accessible. About 115,000 vehicles pass through the area on I-43 each day, Monroe said. The properties could be very attractive to big box or medium box retailers because the site is only about a mile south of Bayshore Town Center, Monroe said.
"You’ve got an area that’s very visible and very easy to get to," he said.
The properties could also attract industrial space users that need only about 7,000 to 15,000 square feet of space, Monroe said.
"There’s not that much out there in that range close to the freeway and close to the north shore," he said.
Monroe is an inexperienced real estate developer. He is looking for a more experienced commercial real estate developer to form a joint venture to develop the properties near I-43.
"I have never tackled a project this large," he said. "I’m not a developer, but I’m becoming one. I’m looking for the right joint venture partner that has a vision and doesn’t mind taking a rookie on board to show him the way."
‘Johnny V’ expanding
in the suburbs
Restauranteur "Johnny V" Vassallo, who owns five restaurants and a coffee shop in downtown Milwaukee, plans to open an Asian-themed restaurant on Bluemound Road in the Town of Brookfield.
Vassallo also is expanding his plans for a Wauwatosa development.
The Brookfield restaurant will be the second location for Monsoon Wok & Lounge. Vassallo opened the first Monsoon in May at 811 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Milwaukee.
"(The downtown Monsoon) is doing very well," Vassallo said. "We’ve just updated our menu, which is being very well-received."
The Brookfield Monsoon location will be in Brookmound Plaza at 17800 W. Bluemound Road. The new Monsoon will occupy a 6,500-square-foot space previously occupied by Thai Kitchen, which closed earlier this year.
The new Monsoon plans include an extensive façade makeover and a Chinese garden patio along Bluemound Road with a fire pit and water features.
Vassallo’s other downtown establishments are Mo’s A Place for Steaks, Mo’s Irish Pub, Moceans, Mo’s Cucina and Mocha. He also owns a Mo’s A Place for Steaks restaurant in downtown Indianapolis.
Vassallo also plans to open a suburban location for Mo’s Irish Pub at the site of a former Ground Round restaurant at the northwest corner of Bluemound Road and Highway 100 in Wauwatosa. The Ground Round closed in February of 2004 when its parent company closed all of its restaurants.
Originally, Vassallo planned to remodel the former Ground Round building. But now he plans to demolish it and build a four-story structure with a 7,000 to 8,000-square-foot space for the pub on the first floor and 20 apartments on the upper three floors. The plans include underground parking for the apartment residents and surface parking for restaurant patrons. The size and rents for the apartments have not been determined yet, he said.
Vassallo said he decided to change his plans for the Wauwatosa project after he examined the building and determined that he wanted to do a more significant project to take advantage of the prime location.
"It’s such a fantastic location," he said. "Demographically, it’s the best corner in the state."
Vassallo said he is confident that his suburban restaurants will not cannibalize his downtown locations.
"I think (downtown and the suburbs) are two totally different markets," he said.
Gardner Group LLC is planning an exterior upgrade of the 180,000-square-foot, eight-story P.H. Dye House building it owns at 320 E. Buffalo St. in the Historic Third Ward. The work will include a new paint job, masonry restoration and new windows for the 83-year-old building. "It’s a pretty major upgrade," said Gordon Steimle, vice president of commercial brokerage for Ogden & Company Inc., which is marketing the commercial space in the building. "It will be a very sharp-looking building when it’s all done." The building’s first floor is almost completely occupied with retailers. However about 60,000 to 80,000 square feet of office space is available on the second through seventh floors, Steimle said. Office lease rates are about $15.50 per square foot, with up to 20,000-square-foot floor plates available. Recently, Ogden rolled out a commercial condominium concept for the office space, providing tenants the option of buying or leasing space in the building. "It’s an opportunity to buy into the Third Ward at a really affordable level," Steimle said. "We believe the demand for commercial office condominiums is a growth business, especially in places like the Third Ward, and will gain in popularity just as the residential condo market did five to 10 years ago." Waukesha-based KeyBridge Development Group is converting the eighth floor of the building into residential condominiums.
Tom Wachman and Demetri Dimidropolus, the owners of Milwaukee Street establishments Eve, Kenadee’s and Tangerine, and Omar Shaikh, the owner of Sake Tumi, plan to open a new Milwaukee Street restaurant later this month. It will be called Carnivore and will be located at 724 N. Milwaukee St., in the former Frauchiger’s Cheese Store & Tavern space. The cheese store closed earlier this year. "It’s going to be Milwaukee’s first true modern steakhouse," Shaikh said. Carnivore will be the latest addition to the street which has become known for its trendy restaurants and clubs including Sake Tumi, Eve, Kenadee’s, Tangerine, Zarletti and Cubanitas."We’re a street full of strong restaurants that people are supporting," Shaikh said.
Ruby Tuesday, a Maryville, Tenn.-based casual restaurant chain, plans to open its first location in Wisconsin at the northwest corner of North 107th Street and West Good Hope Road. The chain plans to build a 5,300-square-foot restaurant at that site. Ruby Tuesday has more than 800 locations. Its menu includes steaks, ribs, wings, seafood and 36 varieties of hamburgers.
Dinesen’s Leather Only recently opened a store at 231 E. Buffalo St. in the Historic Third Ward. The store will replace Dinesen’s downtown Milwaukee location at 798 N. Jefferson St. The Jefferson Street location will close at the end of the year. The several stores have opened in the Third Ward in recent years, while Jefferson Street has become a popular restaurant location.
Voss Books, at 229 N. Water St. in the Historic Third Ward, will close on Dec. 23. The store’s owner, Kelly Voss, said she is closing the used book store, which opened two years ago, because she will be taking a job as the event coordinator and communications manager for the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Bayside. Voss said she will continue selling used books online. In addition, she said she may reopen her book store at another location in the future. "We have a little something in the works," she said. "It would be sometime next year."
Chesapeake, Va.-based Dollar Tree Stores Inc. recently opened a new, 11,500-square-foot store in the Germantown Market Place at N112 W16222 Mequon Road. The discount store chain, which sells all items for $1, has more than 2,850 stores in 48 states including five in Milwaukee, and one in West Allis, New Berlin and Hales Corners.
Lake Geneva
The Cove of Lake Geneva, a resort hotel at 111 Center St. on the Geneva Lake shore, is planning an expansion to add more meeting room space. The hotel plans to add a three-story, 9,800-square-foot addition. The first floor will have a lobby; the second floor will have a 2,400-square-foot meeting room, bathrooms and a catering kitchen; and the third floor will have a 4,119-square-foot meeting room that can be divided into smaller meeting rooms. The addition will add more than 6,500 square feet of meeting space, which could accommodate up to 435 people. Currently, The Cove has about 2,500 square feet of function space, which includes three meeting rooms. The largest is the 1,736-square-foot Map Room that can accommodate up to 120 guests in theater-style seating.
John Harwood plans to develop a 28,500-square-foot, multi-tenant office building on a vacant site at the southeaster corner of Janacek Road and Janacek Court. One of the building’s tenants is expected to be a veterinary clinic, said Town of Brookfield building inspector/ zoning administrator Gary Lake.

CREcommercial real estate Transactions
Colliers Barry
LE Myers Co. leased 7,880 square feet of industrial space at 19660 Sommers Dr., Brookfield, from Mason & Weiss Properties.
NAI MLG Commercial
EthoStream LLC leased 3,308 square feet of office space at 10201 Innovation Dr., Wauwatosa.
Kloth Tax Advisory Group leased 1,725 square feet of office space at 3077 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa.
The Mutual Fund Store leased 2,177 square feet of office space in the Westown Clinic at 21675 Longview Dr. Suite 100, Waukesha, from JPS Realty Group.
Svinicki Association Management leased
2,164 square feet of office space in Summit Place, 6737 W. Washington St., West Allis, from Whitnall Summit Company LLC.
Prestige Realty Group LLC and American Family Insurance leased 2,212 square feet of office space at Barret Office Park, 6290 N. Port Washington Road, Glendale.
Charter Funding leased 3,208 square feet of office space at the High Pointe Office Center, 1200 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa, from MEPT Highpointe.
Pixelbox Visual Design renewed its lease of 1,400 square feet of space at the Tradesman Building, 500 Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove, from Building Trades.

NAI MLG Commercial
A local investment group purchased 22,760 square feet of industrial space at 4801 68th St., Kenosha, from Expedited Freight Systems Inc.
Blair Williams purchased the multi-family property at 731 N. Glenview Ave., Wauwatosa, from Steve and Lillian Wojceckewsky.
Dennis Miskowski purchased a multi-family property at 1819 N. Cambridge Ave., Milwaukee, from GG 1819 LLC.
LCT Investments purchased a multi-family property at 4630 23rd St., Milwaukee, from Gordy Welch.

New Construction
Creative Business Interiors Inc., West Allis, was awarded a contract with the Roman Building in West Allis to design, build and furnish the 2,300-square-foot space for Century 21.
VJS Construction Services, Pewaukee, was awarded the role of general contractor for the renovations and upgrades to Lake Lawn Resort, 2400 E. Geneva St., Delavan.
MSI General Corp., Oconomowoc, was hired by
La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries to design and build a new 24,150-square-foot showroom and storage area at 16120 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield.
Selzer-Ornst Co., Wauwatosa, recently completed construction of a new banking facility for The Private BanCorp. At 741 N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee. Three tenant spaces were removed to make room for the new 13,000-square-foot bank. The project was designed by Jfrench and Associates Architects.
Link Associates Inc., Waukesha, was recently awarded a contract to build the new, 45,000-square-foot Schlossmann’s Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep dealership at 18900 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield.

Andrew Weiland is the managing editor of Small Business Times. Send news about commercial real estate to Andrew.weiland@biztimes.com 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.

Small Business Times, December 9, 2005, Milwaukee, WI

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