Malls are being revamped for another generation

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:29 pm

Several suburban and downtown shopping malls are going through significant makeovers that will produce a new generation of upscale retail options in the Milwaukee area.

Some malls, including The Shops of Grand Avenue and Southridge Mall, have become more aesthetically pleasing with center court upgrades. Some restaurants and retailers are signing leases for the first time in Milwaukee, including Potbelly’s at Grand Avenue, and Crate & Barrel and The Cheesecake Factory at Mayfair Mall.

"It is normal that retail stores in the suburban areas are expected to have nicer aesthetics, not just in terms of the building, but with green space and signage," said Max Rasansky, president and chief executive officer of The Polacheck Co., a CB Richard Ellis Company. "Malls are very cyclical, and I think the mall business is changing as we know it. History has shown that malls need to reinvent themselves every 15 years. They can’t stay level. They have to constantly find new ways to be creative and exciting, because after 20 years, they are appealing to the next generation."

Grand Avenue’s resurgence in downtown Milwaukee caters to businesspeople for lunch with an expanded food court. Applebee’s and Potbelly’s Sandwich Works have opened new locations in the downtown mall, which has nearly completed its Plankinton Avenue renovation with the opening of Old Navy on July 1.

In Glendale, Bayshore Mall’s plans for a Bayshore Town Center, to be open by the fall of 2006, will boast 1.2 million square feet of office and retail space. The estimated $280 million Town Center will become a downtown for the north shore, with tree-lined roads, a movie theater, condominiums and parks.

"Everything is cyclical, and a lot of times when projects like Bayshore Mall are announced, other things start happening and there is a natural synergy that occurs," Rasansky said. "Not all of the space is being leased, but they are new, old and redeveloped centers."

Mayfair Mall announced plans to build a 100,000-square-foot expansion that will be separate from the 34,000 square-foot Crate & Barrel store scheduled to open in 2005 and the 10,000 square-foot Cheesecake Factory currently under construction with an estimated November opening.

"Mayfair is our fashion shopping center and has set the pace and done a phenomenal job of continuously recreating and updating itself," Rasansky said.

Inside Mayfair, new stores continue to be added, Mayfair Mall marketing manager Nancy Conley said, including Oil & Vinegar, a franchise from Holland whose Mayfair opening will be its first store in the United States. Oil & Vinegar is a gourmet food store that offers upscale culinary gifts and food products from Europe and South Africa, according to Brit Gala-Ploeckelmann, the company’s area visual merchandiser.

Southridge Mall has yet to announce the new tenants who will replace the abandoned Younkers store by next summer, but will finish its $2.5 million center court interior modernization by November.

"The old Younkers store will be redeveloped and is projected to open in the summer of 2005 with four big box retailers filling both levels," mall manager Bud Schneider said. "Three will go on the upper level and one on the main level. We will have new entrances and building elevations."

On the north side of Milwaukee, ground was broken in February to mark the start of development of a new retail center to replace Milwaukee’s former Northridge Mall. The new development will be known as Granville Station.

Two large tenants already are committed for the $27 million first phase of the project. They are a Pick ‘n Save grocery store and a Menards home improvement store. Phase I work is to be completed in 2005.

Tucker Development Corp., a Highland Park, Ill.-based company, is the developer on the Granville Station project.

The City of Milwaukee Redevelopment Authority has approved a $4.4 million grant for the Granville Station project. That money will be used to fund a portion of Phase I site work, which includes the demolition of the former Sears store buildings, associated environmental remediation, clearing, re-grading and compacting of approximately 28 acres of the site.

The development of Granville Station continues a trend of new investment in the Historic Granville area.

The Granville Station project is the second recent revitalization by private developers of a once grand but faltering Milwaukee shopping center. Capital Court was leveled and then redeveloped and reopened by Boulder Venture as Midtown Center.

July 9, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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