Last updated on July 19th, 2019 at 12:24 pm
Residents began leasing units in Wauwatosa’s $43 million State Street Station apartments in June of 2017. Brookfield-based HSI Properties developed the project, which is now at almost 100 percent occupancy. HSI President, Ryan Schultz, talks about the unique project in detail.
First, can you briefly describe State Street Station?
“State Street Station (SSS) is a $43 million market rate, mixed-use multifamily development located in the heart of the Village of Wauwatosa. The project includes 148 apartments, over 20,500 square feet of ground floor retail and almost 375 public and private parking stalls.”
This is HSI’s second apartment project in Wauwatosa, correct? What is it about the area that appealed to you for a second project?
“Our Enclave project opened in 2012 to much demand. We identified a niche market within Wauwatosa, especially in the downtown Village. The largely built-out neighborhood has high barriers of entry which is a characteristic we seek in all of our development projects.”
What challenges did you encounter in the planning stages of developing the property?
“Like most urban redevelopment projects completed within established communities, the local neighborhood was highly engaged and, understandably, skeptical of the change. The prior use, a two story mostly-vacant and functionally obsolete retail building, was highly underutilized. We worked very closely with the neighborhood, the elected officials, and the City staff to come up with a plan that best suited the property. We held several community workshop meetings and engaged with community planning and traffic consultants. The Common Council, as a result of the extensive planning discussions, reduced the overall size and density of the project from the original plans to allow the project to better fit the existing neighborhood. Due to the downsizing of the project, environmental remediation and site preparation, and the requirement of providing public parking, the project required $4 million of “developer funded” Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in the form of an abatement of real estate taxes. The project would not have been built “but for” the TIF. The ripple effect of State Street Station and the increase in density and property value is undeniable when you look at all of the improvements that have taken place in the Village over the past two years. These include: infrastructure and streetscaping improvements, new development in the Village, and adaptive re-use of existing property including our Jose’s Blue Sombrero project in the prior Chancery building.”
Construction in an area like that must also be challenging, what challenges did you overcome there?
“All urban redevelopment projects are difficult to construct because they are typically very tight sites within existing neighborhoods, however State Street Station was unique in a few aspects. First, the unique geometry of the project site and building design provided logistical challenges. Additionally, access to the existing Chase Bank and existing streets had to be maintained during the entire construction process. Lastly, as a result of the inclusion of public parking, we had to construct two levels of private underground parking for the apartments above which added a complex earth retention structure and a permanent water management system.”
Wauwatosa has been pretty vocal in its desire to have more projects like State Street Station completed in the City, how was it working with the City on this project?
“The City was wonderful to work with. The Mayor, the administration team, staff, and elected officials worked hard to get this project approved. The City holds all projects to a high standard which makes Wauwatosa a great community to work, live and play.”
Can you elaborate more on what Wauwatosa and the Village, specifically, offers for residents, in your opinion?
“The Village of Wauwatosa offers State Street Station residents one of the most walkable, urban communities in Metro Milwaukee with shops, restaurants, recreation and consumer staples feet from their front door. This unique blend makes the Village the best location in Wauwatosa and one of the most desirable communities in Southeastern Wisconsin.”
What about State Street Station? What floor plans and amenities are offered for residents?
“SSS offers a diverse mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom floor plans and ample private parking compared to the typical market-rate apartment project. There’s a club room complete with a gourmet kitchen, game room, first class exercise room including yoga and fitness on demand studio, quiet study area and 15,000 square feet of private green-roof deck. Each apartment is complete with a state-of-the-art technology package, upgraded appliances, ample storage, and upgraded condo-level cabinetry and countertops. The building is equipped with top notch security and resident services including in-home maid service, dry cleaning, and car portering. We are proud to also offer a Bublr bike station on the property.”
Can you talk about the overall design of the project? What partners did you work with, and why were some of the design choices made?
“The Village of Wauwatosa is one of the most desirable areas to live in Southeastern Wisconsin and the apartment/community amenities had to respond in kind. We made a significant investment in the apartment finishes at SSS to provide high quality, clean and modern apartment homes that appeal to a broad demographic. We also wanted to avoid creating one large monolithic structure in the neighborhood. I think we pulled that off successfully. Because of the surrounding streets, the building took the shape of a triangle- with three legs of that triangle, coming together to form one building. Our desire was to create three independent ‘buildings,’ each with their own design identity- each with various brick types and colors, window sizes and balcony types, etc. The building’s mass and scale fits within the context of the neighborhood and surrounding structures.”
Several retail tenants have signed on in the past year, talk about your retail partners and what you’re looking for in tenants of the space.
“Our goal all along was to have a mix of retail tenants that live well together and provide embedded amenities to the residents above. Fortunately, we have been successful in doing that. We are in the process of signing our final lease for the building. Residents of SSS and members of the community now have access to a myriad of food, and service providers including Chase Bank, Roots Salon, MOD Pizza, Bentley’s Pet Stuff, Orange Theory Fitness, Jimmy John’s and Rice & Roll Bistro.”
Are rental units still available at State Street Station?
“I am pleased to report that SSS is 98 percent occupied. We leased-up the building slightly ahead of schedule.”
What other plans does HSI have for State Street Station moving forward?
“Like all of our stabilized properties, we are in the process of refinancing the construction debt into a long term, fixed agency loan. We will continue to work hard and provide our residents with the highest level of finish and service to ensure that SSS is one of the most desirable addresses in Wauwatosa and Metro Milwaukee.”
State Street Station
7400 W. State Street Wauwatosa
Developer: HSI Properties, LLC