Lowlands Group, Alterra could anchor Mequon Town Center development

Developers are negotiating with Milwaukee-based Lowlands Group and Atlerra Coffee Roasters to anchor a mixed-use development planned northwest of Mequon and Cedarburg roads in the Mequon Town Center district.

Milwaukee-based WiRED Properties and Shaffer Development, owned by Cindy Shaffer, plan to build a $16 million, five-building, mixed-use town center style development at the three-acre site.

The developers plan to demolish two single-family homes, a gas station and an American Legion Post building on the site. Then they plan to build five new buildings: two four-story mixed use buildings with ground floor retail space and apartments on the upper floors, one a 39,000-square-foot building with 3,300 square feet of retail space and the other a 36,000-square-foot building with 8,800 square feet of retail space; a two-story 12,800-square-foot restaurant building; a single-story, 8,400-square-foot build-to-suit commercial building; and a new 3,250-square-foot American Legion Post building.

The build-to-suit building could be larger with a second story if demand warrants, said WiRED president Blair Williams. That building is the one part of the project that remains the most in flux, he said.

The project will have a total of 40 luxury apartments that will be leased at market rates, Williams said. One of the penthouses has already been reserved, he said.

“I’m very, very confident people will want to rent apartments in Mequon,” Williams said. He said empty nesters that want to remain in Mequon but no longer want to own a home will be particularly interested.

The Lowlands Group would occupy the two-story restaurant building, located right at the corner of Mequon and Cedarburg roads. The Lowlands Group owns Trocadero, Café Centraal and Café Benelux, all in Milwaukee, and Café Hollander in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa.

The Alterra café would be located just north of the Lowlands Group restaurant. Alterra has several cafes in the Milwaukee area, including one in a WiRED Properties development on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood.

The Mequon project is typical of many of WiRED Properties developments, which tend to be mixed-use urban-style projects with a focus on local retail tenants.

The site is in the Mequon Town Center district where the city has tried for years to attract development that would create a downtown for the community. The area is just south of the Thiensville Main Street area, and the Town Center is a joint effort of Mequon and Thiensville. However the Mequon Town Center efforts have been mostly stagnant since the Great Recession.

Williams said the site for his project is attractive because Mequon Road and Cedarburg Road (which becomes Main Street in Thiensville) area major corridors, and the site is adjacent to major civic amenities including Mequon City Hall, Mequon Community Park (which has a swimming pool), Settlers Park along the Milwaukee River. In addition the Ozaukee Interurban Trail is nearby, and a Piggly Wiggly-anchored shopping center is located just to the south.

“We happen to think this is a very desirable site in Mequon for a mixed use environment,” William said. “We think the logistics of the site itself lends itself toward this type of development.”
If WiRED and Shaffer obtain city approvals and financing for the project, construction could begin this year and be complete in 2014.

The Mequon Plan Commission approved the project after a review on Monday.

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