Real Estate: Mandel shifts emphasis to apartments at The North End

When Milwaukee-based Mandel Group Inc. purchased the vacant former Pfister & Vogel and U.S. Leather factory along the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee in 2001, the development firm envisioned a redevelopment for the eight-acre site with 80 percent apartments and 20 percent condominiums.

But the surging downtown condominium market convinced Mandel Group executives to craft a development proposal for the site of several buildings with 395 condominiums, 83 apartments and about 30,000 square feet of retail space.

Since unveiling those plans for the development, called The North End, the downtown condominium market has collapsed and is clearly overbuilt.

Mandel Group president Barry Mandel said his company will focus on apartment development for the next two to three years and likely will not build any condominiums for the next three to four years.

As a result, Mandel Group is changing course again with The North End, focusing again primarily on apartments.

“In a large, multi-phase project like that we’re always going to be shifting and adopting to the market,” said Mandel Group senior vice president Richard Lincoln, who is leading The North End project.

The first phase of The North End, a five-story building with 83 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail space, is almost complete. The first residents in the apartments moved in recently and construction for the building, called One North End, is expected to be complete by the end of this month, Lincoln said.

So far about 25 percent of the apartments in the building have been leased, he said.

“The apartments have been pre-leased very well,” Lincoln said.

However, no tenants have been signed for the retail space. The recession has hit retailers, and retail space landlords, very hard.

“We’re talking to one or two groups (about the retail space),” Lincoln said. “The retail environment is challenging to say the least.”

Mandel Group is now working on plans for the second phase of The North End project. In that phase two apartment buildings will be built on the same block as the One North End building. One of the second phase buildings will be built along the south side of East Pleasant Street and the other will be built along the Milwaukee River. A street will be built between the river and the buildings. The buildings will surround a two-level parking structure that is under construction.

The two buildings in The North End’s second phase will be 4 to 6 stories tall and will have a total of 130 to 160 apartments, Lincoln said. Originally those buildings were going to have 142 condominiums, before Mandel Group shifted its North End plans more toward apartments, he said.

The apartments in the second phase buildings will be similar in size and price to the apartments in One North End, Lincoln said. Rents in those apartments range from $900 to $2,000 a month. The apartments range from 520 to 1,360 square feet of space and vary from studios to one and two bedroom units.

Mandel Group hopes to begin construction on the second phase of The North End late this year or early 2010.

It will probably take 3 to 5 more years to fully build out The North End project, Lincoln said. Mandel Group is still planning for about 500 total residential units for the development, but the exact mix of apartments and condominiums has yet to be determined. Although the project has shifted its emphasis toward apartments, some condominiums will eventually be built in the development, Lincoln said.

“I think it will be driven by timing and the market,” he said.

After the second phase buildings are constructed, Mandel Group will likely build 4 or 5 more buildings in The North End project, for a total of 7 or 8, Lincoln said.

Three acres of the 8-acre site will be used for public space, including roads, a riverwalk segment and public plazas.

West Bend

Waukesha-based MRED-Cummings Commercial Development plans to build two new Walgreens stores in West Bend. One would be built on a 2.5-acre site at the northeast corner of West Washington Street and North 18th Avenue on the city’s west side. Four structures on the property would be demolished. The other Walgreens store will be built at the corner of Main Street and Paradise Drive, on the city’s south side, about one mile south of an existing Walgreens store at 806 S. Main St. That store would be replaced by the new south side store, but the new west side store would be an additional Walgreens for West Bend. MRED-Cummings plans to start construction on both new stores, which will each be about 14,500 square feet, this fall.


Oconomowoc-based Hittman Realty plans to build an Aldi grocery store on a 3-acre vacant lot at the southwest corner of Highway 83 and Arrowhead Drive. The site is southeast of the Highway 83/I-94 interchange. Essen, Germany-based Aldi Group has 8,500 grocery store locations worldwide and about 900 in the U.S., including several in southeastern Wisconsin.

Lake Geneva

The Geneva Lake Development Corporation is planning to create a new business park on a 100-acre site along Highway 120 on the south side of the city of Lake Geneva. Only a few sites are available in the Lake Geneva Business Park on the east side of the city.


Sheboygan Shamrock LLC plans to build a 20,000-square-foot building on a vacant three acre site at the northeast corner of Weeden Creek Road and Gateway Drive in the Sheboygan Business Center. The building will be occupied by Viking Electric Supply, a wholesale electrical supplier, which will move there from 1423 N. 29th St. in Sheboygan.


Chesapeake, Va.-based Dollar Tree Stores Inc. plans to open a store in a shopping center southeast of I-94 and Highway 83 at 2742 Heritage Dr. Dollar Tree has thousands of stores in the U.S., including several locations in southeastern Wisconsin.

St. Louis-based Scottrade Inc. plans to open an office in the Shoppes at Nagwaukee at 3220 Golf Road.


Norbert and Christine Klemp plan to open a Digital Edge Copy Center in a 900-square-foot space at 1316 12th Ave. in downtown Grafton. Hubertus-based Digital Edge has locations in Richfield, Brookfield and downtown Milwaukee.

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