Mandel Group in talks with Valentine Coffee Roasters to anchor food cluster project near West Allis Farmers Market

Rendering: Dan Beyer Architects
Rendering: Dan Beyer Architects

Last updated on December 3rd, 2020 at 11:49 am

Milwaukee-based Mandel Group Inc. is negotiating a deal with Valentine Coffee Co. to make the coffee company the anchor tenant of its Makers Row project in West Allis.

Makers Row is the name of the commercial component of Mandel’s plans to develop 6.5 acres southwest of National Avenue and Six Points Crossing and across the street from the West Allis Farmers Market. It is to be built in two phases, altogether totaling roughly 35,000 square feet.

Bob Monnat, senior partner with Mandel, confirmed his firm is negotiating a deal with Valentine that would make the coffee company an anchor tenant. He said a lease hasn’t been made final, but the two parties are working through the terms of the deal.

A city report stated Makers Row would include a coffee vendor as an occupant, but did not identify a specific company.

Makers Row phase one is to include a 12,000-square-foot anchor tenant that will have food production space in the back of the building and accompanying retail storefront, according to plans filed with the city.

The remaining 6,000-square-foot southern portion of the building will cater to ghost kitchen/food truck operators that may want to stage periodic retail operations, such as during events at the farmers market.

Phase two would include another 17,500 square feet of space, meant to attract similar food and beverage production and retail operations as the first phase.

Construction on the first phase is expected to begin in late winter, with preliminary openings slated by the end of summer. Phase two is expected to begin construction in fall 2021 and finish in 2022.

Monnat said Makers Row is moving forward in spite of the food and beverage business being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the outbreak has been a challenge in keeping the momentum going on the project.

“The challenge is, we’ve had a lot of interest in (Makers Row) from tenants beyond Valentine Coffee, but everyone right now is focused on their own survival,” he said.

The two Makers Row buildings are meant to appear as individual buildings constructed over a period of time, according to plan documents. Monnat said the buildings are meant to look like repurposed old manufacturing buildings, containing features such as exposed structural steel.

Mandel also plans to construct a 110-unit market-rate apartment building just west of Makers Row. Called SoNa Lofts, the three-story building will also include 4,950 square feet of retail space.

Monnat said construction on the apartments is slated to begin in the spring and finish up around June 2022.

There is a fourth lot at the south end of project site that Mandel has identified for a future phase. Possibilities there include a “larger scale food producing employment generator” or additional housing, according to Mandel.

The city’s Plan Commission tomorrow will consider a series of approvals related to the project.

The new apartments and commercial buildings represent the next phase of Mandel’s The Market at Six Points development, which also includes a 30,000-square-foot medical office and clinic building and 177-unit apartment complex (called The West) on land northwest of National Avenue and Six Points Crossing.

Those projects represent a $50 million investment, while the latest proposal would amount to as much as another $35 million.

Rendering: Dan Beyer Architects
Rendering: Dan Beyer Architects

Mandel noted in its filings with the city that the food component of the project is meant to create more of a neighborhood in the area surrounding the farmers market. It stated that several years ago it was presented with an offer to purchase the existing Six Points Apartments, which are located east of where The West now stands.

In speaking with property management at the time, Mandel learned that apartment dwellers over time would lose interest in staying there because “there’s just not anything happening around us.”

The intention of The Market at Six Points is to create a mixed-use neighborhood that gives residents a reason to move or stay there. Monnat said apartment dwellers at The West have expressed excitement about the proposal.

He said the food cluster will only add to the growing foodie scene in West Allis. The community is seeing a number of restaurants and breweries opening up in its borders.

“Once we get out of this COVID pandemic, I think the food and beverage scene in West Allis is just going to take off,” Monnat said.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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