Retailers flock to northern suburbs

    Shunned by the City of Mequon, large-scale retail developments are finding new homes farther north in Grafton and Saukville. Milwaukee-based Marcus Corp. plans to build a 10- to 12-screen movie theater complex southwest of the Interstate 43 and Highway 33 interchange in Saukville. The complex could eventually be expanded to 20 screens, said Brian Biernat, community development director for the village.
    Retail development is picking up along Highway 33 between the village’s downtown and Highway LL, east of I-43, Biernat said.
    Those developments include a Pick’n Save grocery store, which opened in January on Highway 33; a Walgreens opening soon across the highway; and a combination KFC/Long John Silver, which has been approved for an outlot near Walgreens.
    To the west, a 20,000-square-foot multi-tenant building is under construction at 620 E. Green Bay Ave. Tenants in the building, called Conservancy Court, will include Quizno’s, Barthel TV Audio and Video, Northern Lights Tan Spa, PC Homecare and Allied Chiropractic.
    Saukville’s population has grown from 3,700 in 1990 to about 4,300 today, Biernat said.
    "I think now we’re seeing (retail) developers pulling the trigger because we do have enough roofs," he said. "We do have enough activity, and the traffic counts are there now."
    Grafton also is seeing significant retail development along I-43.
    A Charcoal Grill restaurant and an 8,000 square-foot multi-tenant retail building, which will include a Cost Cutters, are under construction on Highway 60, west of I-43.
    On a 39-acre property south of the Home Depot at I-43 and Highway 60, a developer plans to build 125,000 square feet of retail space in several buildings, including a 52,000-square-foot building, and an 86-room hotel.
    The hotel will probably be a Hampton Inn & Suites, said Mike Rambousek, director of planning and development for the Village of Grafton.
    Grafton is also receiving retail development proposals for other parts of the village, Rambousek said, including downtown and the village’s south commercial district.
    For years, the City of Mequon has rejected proposals for big-box retail development. That appears to be pushing those retailers north to Grafton and Saukville, said Mequon community development director Brad Steinke.
    Mequon has kept the big box stores out to protect local retailers in Thiensville, Steinke said.
    "We say, ‘Thanks, but no thanks (to big box retailers),’ and we almost send them north," Steinke said.
    Mequon and Thiensville officials are working together to create a "town center" downtown area. Mequon is preparing a request for proposal for residential development on city-owned property in the town center area. City officials also are working on a plan for a tax incremental financing district there.
    Mequon recently approved plans for two banks, an Associated Bank and an Equitable Bank. Both will be built on Port Washington Road. In addition, about 50,000 square feet of new office space has been added in Mequon in several buildings in the Port Washington Road corridor.
    A two-year moratorium on annexations by the Village of Fredonia ended last year. Fredonia officials are now examining plans for a 230-acre annexation for a residential and commercial development proposed by JBJ Construction of Germantown.
    "People will have easy access to Milwaukee, definitely with (Highway) 57 being four lanes now," said JoAnn Wagner, Fredonia village clerk and treasurer.
    The first new building in historic downtown Cedarburg in 25 years is nearing completion at the northwest corner of Western Road and Washington Avenue. The developer, Greg Zimmerschied of Cornerstone LLC, is constructing a 2,700-square-foot building with 1,350 square feet of retail space on the first floor and an apartment on the second floor. The exterior of the building is complete, and Zimmerschied is seeking a retail tenant.
    One block to the north, at the corner of Mill Street and Washington Avenue, Zimmerschied plans to build a two-story building with 5,500 square feet of retail space on the first floor and two apartments on the second floor. If a retail tenant is secured, construction could begin this spring, Zimmerschied said.

    Feb. 6, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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