Marcus considers residential component for The Corners

Milwaukee-based The Marcus Corp. is seriously considering the idea of adding a residential component to The Corners, the $125 million upscale shopping center and office space development it plans to build southwest of Bluemound Road and Barker Road in the Town of Brookfield.

The development is planned for the former West Pointe Cinema site and a former Menard’s store. A 140,000-square-foot Von Maur department store would anchor the shopping center, which would have an additional 230,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The project will also have a yet to be determined amount of office space.

“There are a number of moving parts in terms of the mix of uses,” said Katie Falvey, director of real estate for Marcus.

The Marcus Corp. is also presenting a concept for the project that includes upscale apartments. A marketing video for the project shows plans for 120 residential units.

“We’re just kind of kicking the tires (on a residential component for the project),” Falvey said. “We wanted to see how the retailers would react to having living space incorporated in the project. We are getting very positive feedback from retailers about the idea. It certainly adds a 24-7 vibe to the project.”

The Town of Brookfield’s master plan calls for a mix of uses in the area, Falvey said. She also said a hotel could “potentially” be added to the project.

“The right kind of hotel at the right size could be something that would be a fit for the project,” Falvey said. She declined to say if any hotel companies have expressed an interest in the project.

The Marcus Corp. is in the middle of a “full court press leasing effort” to attract retail tenants to the project, Falvey said. “It’s going very well.”

Falvey declined to say how many tenants The Marcus Corp. needs to secure to obtain financing for the project. The company is also in negotiations with town officials for tax incremental financing for the project.

“We need a public-private partnership for this to work,” Falvey said.

If leasing and financing come together the project could break ground next spring and be open in late 2013. The Marcus Corp. wants to open the entire project at the same time and Von Maur will only open stores in October or November, Falvey said. That means that if the project does not break ground this spring the entire project will be pushed back a year.

Based on the marketing video, The Corners bears a striking resemblance to the outdoor portion of Bayshore Town Center in Glendale. Baltimore-based Development Design Group Inc. (DDG) did architectural work for both projects.

“There are definitely components of this project that are similar to Bayshore,” Falvey said. “We think we took the best components of Bayshore and used them here. We’ve also challenged our team to do it better.”

A major difference is the parking plan for The Corners. Most of the parking for the project (1,800 spaces) will be in a single level parking structure underneath the town center shopping area. Some stores, including Von Maur, will have direct access to their first floors from the parking structure. Several elevators, escalators and stairs will take shoppers from the parking structure up to the town center shopping area. Marcus Corp. wants the parking structure to have a bright, lively feel and current plans also include a water wall feature.

Shoppers will appreciate the underground parking set-up during Wisconsin’s many cold days, Falvey said.

“The retail tenants we are talking to have been extremely excited about that,” she said. “That’s an amenity that people in this climate will really like and appreciate. It’s a huge differentiator.”

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