Updated Menomonee Falls strip malls nab first new tenant

Shops on Appleton acquired last year by Minnesota investor

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Two strip mall buildings that were formerly part of the Falls Plaza shopping center along Appleton Avenue in Menomonee Falls have been given a new look and have landed their first tenant since the updates were made.

Now called The Shops on Appleton, the two newly renovated buildings sit near the northeast corner of Appleton Avenue and University Drive. They were originally branded as Falls Plaza II and III.

St. Paul, Minnesota-based SONA Investments bought the buildings last year, and have since put $500,000 toward making updates, said SONA co-founder and chief executive Shawn Johanson. Work included installing new end caps to give the buildings a more modern look, repainting them with different colors, replacing concrete sidewalks and replacing the monument signs.

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On Friday, SONA announced the signing of the first new retail tenant since this work took place. Sola Salon Studios is leasing 5,000 square feet, combining what had previously been four retail spaces into one. Sola also has locations in the Milwaukee area in Brookfield, Hales Corners and Hartland.

Kevin Schmoldt and Brian Vanevenhoven of Newmark Knight Frank brokered the deal.

In an email, Schmoldt said the leasing strategy for the renovated buildings is to seek out a “higher caliber of tenants.” He noted that Sola previously passed on the shopping center, but decided to locate there once renovations were made.

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Existing tenants of the shopping center also renewed their leases during renovations. This most recently includes Papa John’s, Schmoldt said.

An affiliate of SONA acquired the two buildings in May from a New York investor for roughly $3.98 million, according to state records. The buildings total roughly 37,500 square feet. The Piggly Wiggly-anchored Falls Plaza I is separately owned by a Brookfield-based group.

Newmark Knight Frank sold the buildings to the new owners last year, said Schmoldt.

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The shopping center was also put up for auction online in 2017. The buildings were previously owned by Kansas City, Missouri-based Mission Peak Capital.

The updated buildings are located on a corridor that has seen a number of new commercial developments of late. A Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins are being constructed in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly. Just north of there, near where Appleton Avenue meets Pilgrim Road, a new Burger King was recently built and Waukesha State Bank is building a 7,800-square-foot branch.

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