Grand Avenue owners holding out for grocery store

Innovation hub also in the works

The Shops of Grand Avenue.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:22 pm

The owners of the Shops of Grand Avenue in downtown Milwaukee are still holding out for a grocery store to fill the Plankinton Arcade space.

The Shops of Grand Avenue.

Tony Janowiec, one of the co-owners of the downtown Milwaukee mall, provided an update on the ownership group’s redevelopment of the 293,596-square-foot space at a TEMPO Milwaukee/WCREW event Thursday. The presentation was off the record, but another publication broke that agreement Friday.

The mall’s ownership group is a joint venture between Milwaukee-based Aggero Group and Minneapolis-based Hempel Cos. In 2015, a group including those two firms and Tony Janowiec, who at the time was principal of Milwaukee-based Interstate Parking Co., purchased the mall for $24.5 million. They revealed their redevelopment plans in April 2016.

The owners have been pursuing a grocery store for years to fill the arcade, and they haven’t given up hope, Janowiec said. Asked at the event whether Grand Avenue could house a Trader Joe’s or a Target, Janowiec said Trader Joe’s told him it’s too close to the grocer’s other stores in the market. But he said Target would be “tremendous.”

Janowiec said grocery stores often like to be the last one in a development, so he expects that portion to come together last. The owners have received a number of offers on the space and have rejected them to hold open a 20,000-square-foot space for a grocer, he said.

Several sources have also told BizTimes an innovation hub is in the works for a portion of the Grand Avenue space. In an interview, Janowiec declined to comment on the innovation hub.

Another area of the mall’s conversion from retail to mixed-use is a planned food hall, which Janowiec said in the interview would be a curated selection of Milwaukee restaurants.

“I think the food hall is going to be a regional destination all by itself,” he said. “As an office space, the food hall is an unparalleled amenity. (But) it’s not an amenity first and a food hall second.”

BizTimes reported last month Omar Shaikh has been tapped to run the food hall. Janowiec declined to discuss the food hall tenants or operator, citing a planned announcement in a few weeks.

He told attendees Thursday the food hall would also have a rotating slate of guest chefs, and would include a selection of culinary “experiences.”

Janowiec also declined to discuss potential tenants for the third floor office space portion of the redevelopment, which will be built to suit between two and 12 office tenants.

“The office is set up for a really large range of tenants, from 10,000 to 150,000 square feet,” he said.

The Grand Avenue owners are now planning a 13,000-square-foot “amenity alley” for tenants, which will include a 6,000-square-foot fitness center with full locker rooms, a conference and training room, the management and leasing office, and a “doggy wellness center.” And there will be a club room on the skyway connecting to the ASQ building, a spot for games like pool and foosball.

Attendees also got a hard hat tour of some of the 50 the Plankinton Clover apartments currently under construction on the mall’s second floor. Those will mostly be one-bedroom apartments, some of which face West Wisconsin Avenue and some of which will have their 1914 glass storefronts reinstalled and face the Arcade skywalk, with an “indoor patio” setup.

The apartments will begin leasing in November, and would be priced at $1,600 for an 830-square-foot one-bedroom apartment.

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.