Oak Creek is one of the most active communities in southeastern Wisconsin for construction projects as work is ongoing at numerous development sites and on several road projects.
“Literally you can’t go anywhere without having a (orange construction) barrel go up,” said Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi.
The most active area is the Drexel Town Square project, located on the 85-acre former Delphi plant site southwest of Drexel and Howell avenues. Drexel Town Square will create a downtown for Oak Creek. The mixed-use project will include a 192,000-square-foot Meijer store, a 108-room Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, a traditional Main Street, a town square park, apartments, a new city hall and library building and several restaurants including Water Street Brewery and Panda Express.
The Delphi plant closed in 2008 and the site sat vacant for years as city officials worked to attract development there. Drexel Town Square is being built by a team of developers led by Wispark LLC.
After all of the waiting and planning the Drexel Town Square site is now a beehive of construction activity and residents are starting to see that it is real, Scaffidi said.
“With the walls of Meijer going up you are starting to see the scale of this thing,” he said. “It’s pretty dramatic. Everybody is buzzing about Drexel Town Square.”
Work is underway on several buildings at the site, including the Meijer store and the city hall and library building. Work is also in progress on roads through the site and on access points along Drexel Avenue.
“That’s all happening right now,” Scaffidi said.
Other major building projects under construction in Oak Creek include:
- The 220-acre OakView Business Park, which is also being developed by Wispark, southwest of West Oakwood Road and South Howell Avenue. There, Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Venture One Real Estate is building a 164,007-square-foot plant for Stella & Chewy’s on a 17.8 acre site at 111 W. Oakview Parkway. Stella & Chewy’s, a producer of natural pet food for dogs and cats, plans to move its operations there from Milwaukee.
- Malvern, Pa.-based Liberty Property Trust is building a 171,114-square-foot speculative industrial building at 10020 S. Reinhart Drive in Oak Creek. The $6.3 million project started in June and is expected to be complete in November. It is one of the few speculative industrial developments under construction in the Milwaukee area, despite the region’s 6.05 percent industrial space vacancy rate, according to Xceligent. The region’s industrial market has had 17 consecutive quarters (more than four years) of positive absorption, including absorption of more than 1.5 million square feet of space during the first half of 2014.
“We are experiencing interest from serious tenants regarding sizeable amounts of square footage,” said Neal Driscoll, Liberty Property Trust’s vice president of development in the region.
- Steinhafels is converting the former American TV & Appliance store at 9191 S. 13th St. into a furniture store.
- The City of Oak Creek is also building a new 18,400-square-foot fire station on East Centennial Drive just east of South Howell Avenue.
Several major road projects are ongoing in Oak Creek, in addition to the work on Drexel Avenue in front of the Drexel Town Square site.
The most significant road projects under construction in Oak Creek are the reconstruction of Ryan Road from around Howell Avenue to South 27th Street and of Howell Avenue from College Avenue almost to Oakwood Road.
The Howell Avenue project includes a new median, new pavement, the addition of several turn lanes, new sidewalks and upgraded traffic signals.
“Howell Avenue will be upgraded tremendously,” Scaffidi said.
The Ryan Road project will add pavement, several upgraded traffic signals, sidewalks and a pond east of South 13th Street.
In addition, Milwaukee County recently did a two-day re-paving project of South 13th Street between Rawson and Drexel avenues. In a few years that stretch of South 13th Street will be completely rebuilt, similar to the segment of South 13th Street between Rawson and College avenues.
“People obviously are annoyed with the traffic problems caused by the construction,” Scaffidi said. But residents will appreciate the improvements when they are complete, he said.
“I understand the frustration with the construction process,” Scaffidi said in a message to residents. “But when it’s completed, we will have a system of roadways unmatched in southern Milwaukee County, and moving around the city will be significantly easier and safer.”