Real Estate Spotlight: Developments breathing new life into National Avenue corridor in West Allis

The West, a 177-unit apartment building developed by Mandel Group Inc., is set to open this fall.
The West, a 177-unit apartment building developed by Mandel Group Inc., is set to open this fall.

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:36 pm

The redevelopment of sites west of the West Allis Farmers Market is creeping farther down West National Avenue.

If all goes as planned, the section of National Avenue between South 66th and South 68th streets will lead to a “new neighborhood,” with this momentum possibly stretching even further to other nearby properties, say city leaders.

Most of the projects in this area are being led by Milwaukee-based developer Mandel Group Inc. as part of its master-planned, mixed-use community called The Market at Six Points. These projects include hundreds of units of market-rate apartments, a medical clinic and food-based amenities.

Mandel was selected by the city in 2016 as the project developer for the land on either side of National Avenue, west of 66th Street and Six Points Crossing. The firm has since developed a 30,000-square-foot Aurora Health Care medical office and clinic and a 177-unit upscale apartment complex, called The West, on land north of National Avenue. It is set to open this fall.

To the south, Mandel is planning a “food cluster,” a collection of four food- and beverage-based commercial buildings, directly west of the Farmers Market, according to Robert Monnat, Mandel’s chief operating officer.

Mandel has a specific anchor tenant in mind for the food cluster, though the tenant hadn’t been announced as of late October. However, the user would have food production space in the back of the building and sell its product at the front, Monnat said.

He said work on these buildings is slated to begin this winter, with the first buildings expected to open by the end of summer 2020.

Further west of that, Mandel is planning to develop another mixed-use building that will consist of 70 apartments and 8,000 square feet of additional food-oriented retail space, Monnat said.

These projects focus on food and beverage-type amenities, such as restaurants, which also complements the buildings’ proximity to the Farmers Market.

“The idea (is) that we’re trying to get that Farmers Market to act as the community’s outdoor living (space), and getting people to come there regularly,” Monnat said.

He noted the market is already a major draw, even at times during the winter, with events such as the Christkindlmarkt.

Mandel’s influence now appears to be headed further west, as the firm is partnering with Chicago-based Baum Revision LLC to redevelop some former industrial sites at the southeast corner of National Avenue and 68th Street.

The two developers responded to a request for proposals issued by the city this summer. For its part, Baum Revision proposed redeveloping the former Kearney & Trecker factory at 6771 W. National Ave. into an event and food production space with a kitchen incubator.

“The building will make an architectural statement and complement everything around the site,” said Patrick Schloss, community development manager for the city.

Meanwhile, Mandel proposed developing 90 units of market-rate apartments to the east, at the site that includes the former Perfect Screw Products Corp. facility at 6749-6751 W. National Ave.

Although these projects would be separate from the Six Points developments, Monnat said there are ways in which they will all be interwoven. This includes physical connections, such as planned pedestrian links between sites. They also fit into a broader redevelopment scheme.

“What we’re trying to do is create a critical mass, trying to get an activity center,” he said. “Then that allows us to create density, and that becomes a self-fulfilling engine in terms of reinvestment and the like.”

Schloss said Baum just extended its letter of intent to acquire and redevelop the Kearney & Trecker building for another few months. The developer is still waiting on a national historic designation, which is required to receive historic tax credits on the project.

The city is waiting to move forward with the eastern site until Mandel finishes its work on the Six Points project. As such, Mandel’s proposal hasn’t been selected yet, nor is it a guarantee that’s the proposal the city will select, said Schloss.

In all, Mandel expects a total combined investment of $91.25 million in West Allis from all of these projects.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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