Housing, senior care proposed at 53-acre farm in River Hills

Mandel Group proposal would be first apartment project in north shore community

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:00 pm

Mandel Group Inc. is proposing a 400-unit development at a 53-acre farm in River Hills where the focal point would be an organic farm.

The Farms at River Hills, a $75 million project planned for a site between Brown Deer, West Greenbrook and North Spruce roads, will be the first of its kind in the upscale north shore community of 1,600 people known for its sprawling homes built on 5-acre lots. Mandel has an option to purchase the Eder farm at 1820 W. Brown Deer Road, for the project.

“Our goal was to create a development that didn’t change the character of the neighborhood,” said Ian Martin, vice president development, Mandel Group Inc.

Martin said there have been very few options for baby boomers in the north shore who want to stay in their community, but no longer want the responsibility of home ownership. Mandel Group believes The Farms at River Hills will appeal to people who want to stay in River Hills and the surrounding community.

The success of Mandel’s Beaumont Place in Whitefish Bay, which was 100 percent leased before it was built, makes the firm think there is demand for the River Hills project. The average age of people leasing apartments in Beaumont Place was 59.

The River Hills development would include 204 apartments with underground parking in four buildings with 51 units in each building. The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments would be an average size of 1,300 square feet and range from $1,600 to about $3,300 a month, depending on size. The buildings would be built in a horseshoe shape, with a courtyard in the middle. The buildings on the north/south will be three stories, the buildings built east/west will be two stories.

Surrounding the apartments would be 14 buildings with a total of 28 single-story, 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot duplexes with two-car attached garages. The cost to live there is up to $6,000 a month.

On the far north end of the property are planned 11 single family home lots. Nine of the lots would be half an acre. The two end lots would be one acre. The single family homes would have a private entrance off of Greenbrook Drive to minimize traffic on that street, Martin said.

On the west side of the development would be a 75- to 100-bed senior living facility. On the east side would be a 50- to 75-bed memory care facility.

All of the buildings are being designed by Jim Shields, an architect with HGA who designed the Milwaukee Art Museum Expansion project, Mandel’s Beaumont Place and the Harley Davidson Museum.

The development will also include a 9-acre organic farm along Brown Deer road that will be professionally managed. The concept, which is new to Wisconsin, is called “agrihood,” is being modeled in part after a neighborhood in suburban Atlanta called Serenbe, where Martin and Bob Monnat, chief operating officer of Mandel Group traveled earlier this year.

The Farms at River Hills would feature a clubhouse with a demonstration kitchen for cooking classes and residents could take part in Community Supported Agriculture programs. Other amenities planned include pickle ball courts, horseshoes and ice skating on the 1 million gallon pond.

“The history of River Hills is rural and agriculture,” Martin said. “Over time, large houses and estates have developed, but we want to cluster our development on a small footprint and keep open space to 72 percent of this property. This will bring more people to River Hills – yes, but we want to try to maximize the open space.”

Village Manager Chris Lear said Mandel Group has not submitted anything formally to the village and referred all questions to Martin. Mandel Group will host a public meeting on the project from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight at Cardinal Stritch University’s Sister Camille Kliebhan Conference Center at Bonaventure Hall, 6801 N. Yates Road.

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