Shorewood plans village rejuvenation

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 11:00 am

Shorewood’s two commercial strips, East Capitol Drive and North Oakland Avenue, haven’t changed much during the last 20 years. Some businesses have come and gone, but neither street has seen a large amount of redevelopment.

To help attract new businesses and more residents, while still preserving a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, village officials have created a strategic plan.

The plan has identified the most suitable sites for redevelopment and created a marketing plan for the village, in which a new streetscape plan will be executed over the next four years.

To attract developers, the village has identifiedthe top 20 parcels it wants to see redeveloped. Most of those properties are along Oakland Avenue or Capitol Drive and range from less than one to nine acres in size.

“We identified sites that were under-utilized, not well maintained or non-conforming and came up with our top 20 sites,” said Village Manager Chris Schwartz. “We have to look for opportunities – we have to figure out what will be catalytic projects and concentrate on them and try to match developers up with projects.”

The village does not own any of the parcels, and officials do not plan to use the village’s powers of eminent domain to seize the properties, Schwartz said. Instead, the village has created a $20 million tax incremental financing (TIF) district which has been enlarged to include its commercial districts. TIF dollars can be used to help with purchasing, assembling or remediating sites, Schwartz said.

The district now includes all of Oakland Avenue within the village limits and Capitol Drive from Shorewood’s western boundary at the Milwaukee River to Downer Avenue on the east. The TIF also includes several properties along the Milwaukee River.

TIF funds are borrowed by a municipality to encourage or assist in the redevelopment of blighted or distressed properties. The funds are repaid through increased property taxes as the redeveloped property appreciates in value.

Redevelopment of one of the parcels within the village may begin later this year.

The village is negotiating with developer Blair Williams, president of Milwaukee-based Winder Real Estate Development Inc., who is planning an $8 million mixed-use, retail and condominium project in the 4500 block of North Oakland Avenue. Last year, the village purchased the site, which had two homes and an orthodontist office. Those structures were razed.

Williams plans to build a four-story building on the site with about 6,000 square feet of retail space and 23 condominiums priced between $200,000 and $400,000.

The property that Shorewood officials are negotiating with Williams is only one of the 20 sites they want to see redeveloped.

One of the largest areas that village officials have identified as a prime candidate for redevelopment sits along the Milwaukee River at Capitol Drive. The three-parcel, nine-acre site consists of the Riverbrook Family Restaurant, 1111 E. Capitol Drive, two apartment complexes and a small warehouse area.

No formal proposals have emerged yet for that parcel, Schwartz said, but the village is eager to see them.

“If the river site got done, it would be great if that would happen,” Schwartz said.

Some of the other notable sites the village hopes to see redeveloped in the near future include: the parking lot for the Sendik’s grocery store at 4027 N. Oakland Ave.; a parking lot for a public park in the 3500 block of North Oakland Ave.; the entire east side of the 3600 block of North Oakland Ave., which includes a Chinese restaurant, small retail building and gas station; and the five-story Lakewood Financial Services building at 3575 N. Oakland Ave.

Parcels such as the Sendik’s parking lot or the Lakewood building could be catalytic in Shorewood, helping spur additional redevelopment on neighboring properties, Schwartz said.

“If we could reconfigure (the parking lot), it could be huge,” he said.

If the Sendik’s parking lot were redeveloped, the village might consider a parking garage for the immediate area, Schwartz said.

To boost redevelopment and preserve its foot-friendly shopping districts, as well as its unique architecture, Shorewood has created a plan to market itself to potential developers and preserve its character.

“The marketing ties it all together,” Schwartz said. “We’re not redefining ourselves. We’re spreading the word that we’re open for business. It was more of finding what we are and now marketing that. Active urbanism means an active street.”

Marketing the village sites will help correct misconceptions that Shorewood is anti-development, said Jim Plaisted, executive director of the Shorewood Business Improvement District.

“A lot of the effort is getting a different message out there,” Plaisted said. “Shorewood is welcoming business and development on our terms, according to the guideline of the master plan.”

Shorewood will begin the first of four phases of streetscape improvements later this year.

The first phase of the project will install new street lighting, plant trees in the public right-of-way, create traffic slowing street improvements and install decorative, brick-like stamping in pedestrian crossings along North Oakland Avenue. The first phase should be completed by late September or October, Schwartz said, and will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The project’s second phase, to be done next year along the same stretch of Oakland Avenue, will install new benches, planters and street signs.

Between 2008 and 2011, the village plans to create a series of new public plazas and visible entry points to Shorewood, Schwartz said. The village has identified several areas where it could develop plazas, “places where people could sit and gather” Schwartz said. Developing the plazas and entrance areas will be the third phase of the project, he said.

The streetscape’s final phase will be done in 2011, when the state of Wisconsin renovates Capitol Drive in the village’s limits, Schwartz said. At that time, the village will improve the street with the same improvements it is putting on Oakland Avenue.

The village’s plan is designed to take place over the next five to 10 years, Schwartz said.

“We’re setting a foundation now to accomplish this-a resurgence without losing what we are and always will be,” he said. “We don’t want a national (chain) retail feel. We want a neighborhood business feel.”

Shorewood’s Top 20 Redevelopment Sites

1.    Vacant lots in the 4500 block of North Oakland Avenue.
2.    Riverbrook Family Restaurant, 1111 E. Capitol Drive, and two attached properties
3.    Sendik’s parking lot, 4027 N. Oakland Ave.
4.    River Park parking lot in the 3500 block of North Oakland Avenue.
5.    Three commercial properties in the 3600 block of North Oakland Avenue, including East Garden Chinese Restaurant.
6.    Strip mall containing Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, 4164 N. Oakland Ave., and other businesses.
7.    Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, 4093 N. Oakland Ave., and attached Walgreen’s parking lot
8.    UPS Store, 4230 N. Oakland Ave.
9.    U.S. Post Office,  1620 E. Capitol Drive
10.    Commercial buildings in the 1500 block of East Capitol Drive
11.    TCF Bank, 4201 N. Oakland Ave.
12.    Lakewood Financial Services, 3575 N. Oakland Ave.
13.    Vacant dry cleaning building, 4300 N. Oakland Ave.
14.    Mobil Gas Station, 4514 N. Oakland Ave.
15.    Small strip of commercial buildings in the 1700 block of East Capitol Drive
16.    North Shore Bank building,
3970 N. Oakland Ave.
17.    Sherwin Williams Paint Store, 3506 N. Oakland Ave.
18.    Bakers Square restaurant, 1305 E. Capitol Drive
19.    Shorewood Auto Repair, 1330 E. Capitol Drive
20.    Commercial building and apartment buildings in the 3500 block of North Oakland Avenue.

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