South 76th Street retail corridor poised for revitalization

The South 76th Street retail corridor in Greendale and Greenfield could be on the verge of a turnaround. Two major redevelopment projects, the revitalization of Southridge Mall and a proposed Walmart grocery and pharmacy store are expected to attract additional shoppers to the corridor, which should help spur additional retail development.

“The corridor north of Southridge remains pretty healthy,” said Chuck Erickson, Greenfield planning director. “In that general area the occupancy rate is pretty high. Greater activity around the anchor (Southridge) is only going to enhance that.”

The biggest redevelopment project planned for South 76th Street is Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc.’s plans to revitalize Southridge Mall. Simon announced recently that it will add a 150,000-square-foot Macy’s department store in the south end of the mall. The space was formerly occupied by a Younker’s store, which closed in 2000. It will be second Macy’s store in the Milwaukee area. The store will have 160 employees.

The addition of Macy’s will be part of a multi-million dollar renovation of the 41-year-old, 1.2 million-square-foot mall.

“The mall is going to be completely transformed,” said Scott Richardson, regional vice president of development for Simon. “Every part of the mall is going to be renovated. Every surface that you see there will be touched.”

Simon plans to add several other new tenants at the mall. So far the only other new tenant that has been announced is an H&M store.

“The leasing effort is going to be big,” Richardson said.

The leasing representative for Southridge Mall is Robert Alexander.

“We’re already working on lease commitments with new tenants in conjunction with the renovation plans,” he said. “With new tenants and a renovated mall, we feel we can truly launch Southridge Mall to the next level.”

Across 76th Street from Southridge, Wal-Mart plans to build a grocery and pharmacy store at the vacant former U.S. Bowling Congress headquarters site.

“The addition of a major retailer with grocery store would enhance retail diversity and function within the South 76th Street business corridor,” said Greendale village president John Hermes.

Another project that will bring more traffic to the South 76th Street corridor is a 90-unit independent senior housing complex that Fox Point-based General Capital Group LLC is building just south of Southridge Mall. The project is expected to be complete early next year.

Many residents on the south side of the metro area have bypassed Southridge Mall and the South 76th Street corridor for years to drive to preferred shopping destinations at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa and in Brookfield, said Siegel-Gallagher vice president Cory Sovine. If the South 76th Street corridor can attract a retail lineup comparable to, or better than, the stores in Wauwatosa and Brookfield many of those residents will shop in the Southridge area instead, he said.

“I think the Macy’s store is going to have a huge impact on that,” Sovine said.

In addition, the upcoming planned reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange will create a hassle for traveling to Wauwatosa and Brookfield and will encourage many residents on the south side of the metro area to shop closer to home in the South 76th Street corridor, Sovine predicts.

“(The Zoo Interchange project) is going to be a huge benefit to the South 76th Street corridor,” he said.

Additional shopping destinations, shoppers, employees and residents along South 76th Street could help attract retailers to several key vacant properties in the corridor.

Sears Roebuck & Co. plans to sell the former Leath Furniture building. The two-story, 39,000-square-foot vacant building is located along South 76th Street in front of Southridge Mall.

The Borders store at 5250 S. 76th St., located in a Southridge Mall outlot, closed this year when the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed 200 stores across the country.

The Ultimate Electronics store located in the former Circuit City building at 4585 S. 76th St., Greenfield, closed earlier this year. A pawn shop has been proposed for the building. The Greenfield Common Council will hold a public hearing on the pawn shop proposal on June 21.

But other than the former Leath, Borders and Ultimate Electronics sites, and some outlots in front of Southridge Mall, there are not a lot of opportunities for new development in the South 76th Street retail corridor, said Steven Anderson, president and CEO of Greenfield-based Anderson Commercial Group.

“There’s a significant barrier to entry over there,” he said.

However, many of the retail buildings in the South 76th Street corridor are in need of a facelift and could attract higher quality tenants, Sovine said. But in order for that to happen retailers in the corridor must have increased sales and demand for retail space in the corridor must increase, which would allow landlords to increase their rents and will encourage them to make improvements to their buildings.

Greendale officials are taking significant steps to stimulate the redevelopment of the South 76th Street corridor. Last year the village board approved $16 million in tax incremental financing (TIF) for South 76th Street, including $10 million for the Southridge Mall revitalization project.

City of Greenfield officials have been consulting with engineering and planning firm GRAEF to capitalize on anticipated growth opportunities in the South 76th Street corridor, Erickson said.

“A lot of the (traffic) feed that is coming from the north (on its way to the mall) will go through the Greenfield corridor,” Erickson said. “We’re looking at how we can best prepare for greater activity from a revitalized Southridge area.”

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