Shops of Grand Avenue sale closes

The sale of The Shops of Grand Avenue in downtown Milwaukee was finalized Wednesday.

The 293,596-square-foot enclosed mall at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. was purchased by Alliance Capital Invest, a New York-based real estate investment firm led by Alex Levin, which submitted the winning $16.5 million bid in an online auction in October.

Courtney Groff, the general manager for the Shops of Grand Avenue, said the new owner’s first order of business will be to reach out to local stakeholders over the next 30-45 days to gain insight into the needs of the downtown Milwaukee community.

“They hope to get input from and possibly collaborate with Westown Association, Wisconsin Avenue Milwaukee Development Corp. (WAM DC), City of Milwaukee and Visit Milwaukee,” she said.

Redevelopment plans for the mall could include new uses. Mid-America Real Estate, which has been leasing the retail space at the mall, made the decision to hire the office leasing firm of RFP Commercial and will also be retaining an architect to explore creative ways to introduce new uses for at least a portion of the mall’s Plankinton Building.

“Alliance Capital Invest recognizes that the Plankinton Building needs to be revitalized and repurposed,” said Dan Rosenfeld, principal for Mid-American Real Estate-Wisconsin. “In an effort to broaden our reach and expand our marketing efforts so as to make sure we are capturing all user possibilities, we started building a team prior to closing.”

Mid-America was hired two and a half years ago by the previous owner of the mall, a group of Bank of America investors, as the property’s asset manager.

“Our focus going forward will be finding a co-tenant for the former Linens ‘N Things space,” said Rosenfeld. “This user locating across from T.J.Maxx could take the form of another retailer, an office user, or a specialty user such as a school and educational facility.”

“Alliance Capital Invest appreciates the history of The Shops of Grand Avenue and understands the hurdles and challenges facing the property,” Rosenfeld said. “They’re ready to embrace the challenge and devote the necessary resources needed to attract and retain the right users, in addition to marketing and continuing the capital improvement program we started.”

The strategy for the Shops of Grand Avenue will be mixed-use, Rosenfeld said.

“It calls for an open-minded approach about the best use of the Plankinton Building, and I truly feel that we’re moving in a positive direction for this property and for the community it serves,” he said.

Groff said many of the The Shops of Grand Avenue’s tenants have indicated optimism about the future of the mall. Over the past 12 months, T.J.Maxx, Walgreens and the majority of food court tenants have secured leases and long-term commitments.

Delia Luna, owner of 9Round, one of the mall’s newest tenants, said, “I’m more than excited to welcome the new owner and the changes they have planned for The Shops of Grand Avenue. This area is the heart of Milwaukee, and revival is needed.”

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