Real Estate: New Stritch campus could rekindle Mandel’s St. Francis project

Milwaukee-based development firm Mandel Group Inc. purchased a vacant 12-acre site near the lakefront in St. Francis with high hopes about two-and-a-half years ago. The firm planned a 130,000-square-foot development, primarily with retail space, to serve what it expected would be a surging population in the lakefront area of the south shore suburb.

Mandel’s plans were put on hold when a series of projects proposed nearby fell through as the economy melted down:

Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based Kimball Hill Homes planned to build an additional 127 homes next to the Park Shore Condos development. However, as the U.S. housing market collapsed, Kimball Hill dropped its expansion plans for the St. Francis development. Kimball Hill filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year and recently announced that the company will be shut down.

Stark Investments bought 20 acres of undeveloped property on the lakefront from Kimball Hill, north of the Park Shore Condos project and next to Stark’s headquarters at 3600 S. Lake Drive. Stark planned to build two 100,000-square-foot office buildings on the site. However, those plans also were dropped as the U.S. financial industry crisis hit this year.

Milwaukee Protestant Home had planned to build a senior housing development on a lakefront parcel south of The Landing at Park Shore, but the Protestant Home’s project also fell through, and the property was sold to Hinsdale, Ill.-based Wexford Development Group LLC. The site remains vacant.

The slowdown of development along the St. Francis lakefront caused Mandel Group to put its project, called Lakeside Market Square, on hold because the neighborhood’s population was not growing as the firm had expected and the U.S. recession has had a devastating affect on retailers.

“We went into that project with very high hopes,” said Robert Monnat, chief operating officer of Mandel Group. “But ever since we acquired the property, everything has gone backward.”

However, Cardinal Stritch University recently announced plans to expand with a second campus on the high-profile Cousins Center property along the St. Francis lakefront, and the Cardinal Stritch project could provide a new boost to the area and reinvigorate Mandel’s retail project.

“That’s great news,” Monnat said of the Cardinal Stritch project. “They will create a density of people there. That should give us an opportunity to kick-start our project again and get it going. We think there’s a great opportunity now to see some people regain interest in the area.”

The Cousins Center is located at 3501 S. Lake Drive, northwest of Mandel’s property. The Cousins Center was the headquarters for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which had to sell the property because of financial problems caused by the priest sex abuse scandal.

Cardinal Stritch plans to develop a 129-acre site, which includes the Cousins Center property and a vacant Wisconsin Energy property. The campus will be developed in phases. Once fully built out, it would have a student population of 1,870 and 420 employees, according to the university.

It could take about 20 years for the property to be fully developed, the university says.

The campus development proposed by Cardinal Stritch was endorsed by the St. Francis Planning Commission. A public hearing on the project will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 6, and the St. Francis Common Council is expected to vote on the proposed rezoning for the project on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Mandel Group is watching the process and hoping the Cardinal Stritch plan is approved.

“Cardinal Stritch can’t happen fast enough,” Monnat said.

Mandel Group still thinks its St. Francis property is a good location for a grocery store, medical offices and a neighborhood shopping center, Monnat said.


Nate Sutton plans to demolish the Congo River miniature golf course southwest of Interstate 94 and Highway 50 and will build a 33,000-square-foot Honda auto dealership.


Francisco Sanchez plans to build a three-story, mixed-use building on a vacant 6,840-square-foot lot at 1663 S. Muskego Ave. The 18,027-square-foot building would have 1,840-square-foot of retail space on the first floor, a 2,986-square-foot garage area on the first floor, and 6 apartments on the upper two floors.

Sanchez also plans to open a bar, restaurant and banquet hall, called Pancho’s Hall & Grill, in a vacant 3,584-square-foot building at 1701 W. Lincoln Ave.

N & J United Group LLC plans to open a restaurant, called Judy’s Red Hots, in a vacant 1,280-square-foot building at 2860 N. Holton St.


A 13,225-square-foot CVS Pharmacy store will be part of the Shoppes at Fox River development that Opus North Corp. is building on the 55-acre former Fleming Cos. property northwest of Sunset Drive and Chapman Drive.

Waukesha Memorial Hospital plans to build a three-level parking structure with 964 spaces on a parking lot at the southwest corner of its property. The hospital will have about 2,550 parking spaces once the project is complete.

West Allis

Lam Virasith plans to open an American/Chinese restaurant called Flaming Grill in the former Steel Horse restaurant building at 6215 W. National Ave. The project will include a new façade for the building. Virasith owns the Thai Gourmet Restaurant in Kenosha and plans to open a restaurant in Delafield called Pacific Bistro.

West Bend

Fox Point-based General Capital Group plans to build a 63,127-square-foot grocery store at 2510 W. Washington St. Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc. will lease the space and will move its store from across the street at 2380 W. Washington St. into the new building. 

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