The Corners is finally a go

After years of planning, and a construction delay of several months, it appears that The Corners, a much anticipated lifestyle center development in the Town of Brookfield, is finally ready to move forward into full-blown construction.

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for this spring and the project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2016.

“This is happening,” said Megan Hakes, a spokeswoman for The Corners’ developers.

The Corners, a $200 million development, will be a 750,000-square-foot retail, restaurant and apartment development on a 19-acre site bounded by West Bluemound Road, North Barker Road and I-94. The site was formerly occupied by Marcus Theatres’ West Point Cinemas and a Menards store.

In 2011, the Marcus Corp. unveiled plans for The Corners and announced that it would be anchored by a 140,000-square-foot Von Maur department store, the first location in the state for the Davenport, Iowa-based retailer. The Corners will have 400,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Demolition work for the site began last year but has been halted since the summer. The former movie theater complex was torn down but the Menards structure remained standing. Demolition of the former Menards structure will begin soon, the project developers announced recently.

The project was delayed as Marcus reworked the structure of the development deal. In 2013, Marcus announced that a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc. and Chicago-based M&J Wilkow would be partners on the project.

But now those partners are out and new partners are taking the lead. Marcus announced recently that it has entered into a joint venture agreement with IM Properties and Bradford Real Estate on the project. IM Properties and Bradford will serve as the managing members of the joint venture and Marcus Corp. will remain as a partner in the joint venture.

“Marcus is a minority partner going forward,” Hakes said.

Marcus Corp., a movie theater and hotel company, brought Bradford and IM Properties into the project to add their real estate development expertise. Bradford Real Estate is based in Chicago and has 30 years of experience in retail development, mainly in the Midwest. Coleshill, U.K.-based IM Properties also has 30 years of experience in all major real estate sectors, including retail, industrial and logistics, office and residential. It also owns and manages an investment and development portfolio valued in excess of $1.5 billion across the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

Bradford and IM Properties also have experience working together.

“During the past six years, IM Properties and Bradford Real Estate have developed an excellent working relationship and together have executed nine successful shopping center developments,” said Robert Gould, vice president at IM Properties. “The Corners is a trophy investment opportunity and we are confident that it will be a flagship development with a great future.”

“We have worked closely with IM Properties on multiple properties in the Midwest, and our repeat ability to deliver a superior final product is a credit to our development expertise and IM Properties’ investment capacity and capability, as well as our joint ability to form strong partnerships with tenants, partners, lenders and other interested parties that are vital to the success of a project such as The Corners,” said Steve Pagnotta, president of Bradford Real Estate.

One change the new development team has made to the project is the increase in the number of apartments from 150 to 235. The apartments will be managed by Milwaukee-based Mandel Group Inc.

Financing is in place for construction of the project to begin, Hakes said. Equity financing will be provided by IM Properties, with an initial investment of approximately $20 million in hard costs and $20 million in soft costs, she said. Marcus is providing the land for the deal. The Town of Brookfield has approved $34 million in tax incremental financing for the project. Construction financing will be secured at a later time, Hakes said.

“The equity (financing) is there to get the job done,” she said.

Having the new partners and financing in place to begin construction should help attract retail tenants to the project, Hakes said. Only the deals for the Von Maur store and a Sendik’s grocery store have been solidified. Deals for other previously announced tenants will need to be renegotiated with the new development team.

“Those conversations are happening now,” Hakes said.

CBRE will handle the retail leasing negotiations for the project, replacing Bruce Westling of NAI MLG Commercial.

The news of the new development team and progression of the project into the construction phase should also help The Corners attract more retail tenants, Hakes said. It was difficult to get tenants to commit to the project while the construction schedule and completion date were uncertain, she said.

“Retailers really need to know that this project is moving forward,” Hakes said. “Until there is a building or construction has begun, it is difficult to commit until you know the project is totally moving forward.”

Potential tenants are showing interest in the project, Hakes said.

“What we’re hearing is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. (Potential tenants) like the concept and they really like the location. We are having a number of positive discussions with brand name retailers and restaurants.”

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