The Bluemound Road corridor in Brookfield has long been one of the best places in the region for retailers to set up shop.
“That whole Bluemound Road corridor is one of the top trade areas in metro Milwaukee,” said Tim Blum, executive vice president and managing director of the retail division for Chicago-based HSA Commercial Real Estate.
And now, the Bluemound Road corridor is on the verge of a major upgrade. Development on Bluemound had been stagnant for several years. But several major development and redevelopment projects are about to provide a major boost to Bluemound Road.
“For a long time nothing was really going on, on Bluemound Road,” Blum said. “This activity has only really been recent.”
Plans for new retail development along Bluemound, plus the addition of new retailers in other parts of the region, such as the Nordstrom store that will open later this year at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, have forced other retail property owners to make improvements.
“They have to make a move to compete,” Blum said. “It just seems the competition has forced people to step up their game.”
The most noticeable activity along Bluemound right now is a major construction project near Goerke’s Corners. After years of planning and a construction delay of several months, construction finally began earlier this year for The Corners, a $200 million lifestyle center development that is being built on a 19-acre site bounded by West Bluemound Road, North Barker Road and I-94. The site was formerly occupied by Marcus Theatres’ West Point Cinemas and a Menards store. Tenants at The Corners will include a 140,000-square-foot Von Maur department store, a Sendik’s grocery store and an Anthropologie store.
Meanwhile, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL & Associates Properties Inc. earlier this year began work to add 20,000 square feet of space at Brookfield Square Mall, located southwest of Bluemound Road and Moorland Road. The addition will provide space for three restaurants: Jason’s Deli, Blackfinn Ameripub and Mooyah Burger. A 50,000-square-foot second phase of the Brookfield Square expansion is expected to begin next year.
HSA Commercial plans to begin construction this summer to add 16,000 square feet and remodel the 100,000-square-foot Plaza 173 shopping center at 17300 W. Bluemound Road. The shopping center will be rebranded Calhoun Crossing and will be anchored by a Fresh Thyme Farmers Market store. The building will also have space for four “junior boxes” and one small tenant, Blum said. HSA also plans to build an 11,000-square-foot outlot building that will replace the existing Kesslers Diamonds building. The new building will be occupied by Kesslers and Men’s Wearhouse.
Across the street from the Calhoun Crossing site is the site of The Corridor, a massive commercial development planned by Irgens on the 65-acre former Ruby Farm site southwest of Bluemound and Calhoun roads. Irgens acquired the site for about $10 million in 2013 and is ready to begin a $153 million development project.
“It’s really the last large, undeveloped site along Bluemound Road and I-94,” said Mark Irgens, chief executive officer and manager of Irgens. “It’s smack dab in the center of Brookfield and has unparalleled demographics, for population density and income, in the Milwaukee market. We’re lucky to have acquired the site when we did.”
Construction will begin this month on public and private infrastructure on the site, including roads, sewer and water infrastructure.
The project is split into three sections. The northern section along Bluemound Road is retail focused. Irgens has a signed lease for a 50,000-square-foot Dick’s Sporting Goods store and is negotiating leases with two other mid-box tenants. Those three stores will have about 95,000 square feet of total space.
Irgens is negotiating leases with a financial services firm and an “electronics use” firm for a 10,000-square-foot multi-tenant building along Bluemound, Irgens said. In addition, a bank and a restaurant have signed letters of intent to open locations in The Corridor along Bluemound.
“We have a lot of really strong interest and positive momentum on the leasing front on retail,” Irgens said. Dan Rosenfeld and Teresa Shemitis of Mid-America Real Estate are marketing the property to retailers and “have done a super job for us,” Irgens said.
“We’re having very good traction (on the retail space),” said David Arnold, executive vice president for Irgens, who is heading up The Corridor project. “We’re very pleased.”
Development of the retail space at The Corridor should begin in early August, Arnold said.
The middle section of The Corridor will have a wellness/health care and hospitality focus. Irgens said the firm is talking to “several” health care and wellness users interested in operating a fitness facility there.
“They are all names that you would recognize,” Arnold said.
Irgens also said the firm has a handshake deal with a hotel developer for The Corridor. A flag for the hotel has been selected, which Irgens declined to name. It will be a “business class hotel on steroids,” with about 150 rooms, Irgens said.
Irgens is also in discussions with the City of Brookfield and the Brookfield Convention and Visitors Bureau about the possibility of adding a conference center to the hotel, as part of a public-private partnership.
The southern portion of The Corridor, located along I-94, is the office portion of the project. That part of the project could have up to three office buildings. The first office building that Irgens is marketing at The Corridor would be a six-story building with about 175,000 square feet of space. The office buildings will not be built on speculation, Irgens said.
Irgens is talking to three different financial services organizations and two other firms considering relocations of their corporate headquarters for the office space in The Corridor, Arnold said. All of those firms are currently located in southeastern Wisconsin, he said.
The timing is right to add suburban class A office space in the region, particularly along highly visible I-94 in Brookfield, Irgens said.
“There has been no new (office space) product added in the western suburbs for over 10 years,” he said. “There is demand.”
The Corridor will also include the preservation of the historic Ruby Farm house and barn on the site. The house could be converted to office space. The barn could be used for storage or converted to office space.
All of the other development occurring on Bluemound Road will improve the area and will benefit The Corridor project, Irgens said.
“I like having more development coming in,” he said. “We may compete for (retail) tenants. But they are going to add value to the street. If we have more value added to the street, for us it increases our value.”