Along the fence outside of the former Kohl’s Corp. distribution center in Menomonee Falls, there are signs that say “rally point 1” and “rally point 2.” Rally points just happen to be how volleyball is scored.
Shelly Dowler, director of operations for the Milwaukee Sting, took that as a good sign. The Sting had been fundraising and looking at potential properties to purchase or lease for its volleyball club for nearly a decade.
On Dec. 1, the group signed a 10-year lease, with the option to extend, for 53,500 square feet from C.H. Coakley & Co. at N54 W13901 Woodale Drive.
“We were trying to find the right fit for so long and had to walk away from a couple of other projects that just were not going to meet all of our needs,” said Jenny Hahn, Sting board member and executive director of the Junior Volleyball Association. “We fell on this, and it’s just perfect.”
Coakley recently purchased the 388,000-square-foot warehouse from the Village of Menomonee Falls for $7.2 million.
Michael Coakley, managing partner of C.H. Coakley & Co., said the moving company plans to use about 200,000 square feet of the building for data and information storage.
The Sting and Coakley are planning to invest $1 million in the property to improve the building and turn the Sting’s portion into a state-of-the-art volleyball club that can host regional and state tournaments.
The Sting would also like to eventually build a tiki bar (outside concessions, Hahn joked) and outdoor sand volleyball courts where the Kohl’s Corp. loading docks once were, so volleyball can be played at the facility year-round. Club volleyball is played from June through October. A future bar and possibly outdoor courts – particularly the lighting – would require village approval.
The Sting had been leasing space at four locations in two counties: Center Court Sports Complex in Waukesha, Waukesha County Technical College, West Allis Central High School and West Milwaukee Middle School.
The club was looking for a space with high enough ceilings, concessions and adequate parking and restrooms. The Coakley property has it all, Hahn said.
The space the Sting is leasing has 28-foot ceilings and there is more than enough parking to host club members and visitors during tournaments. The club also has access to an 18-stall women’s restroom and large men’s restroom.
In addition to leasing the 53,500 square feet, the Sting is leasing a kitchen and cafeteria area, three offices and a mezzanine area for storage.
There are more than 320 10- to 18-year-olds in the Sting’s club program. The Sting also offers a youth clinic for children as young as 3 and a camp that drew 715 children last year during its eight sessions, said Shelly Dowler, director of operations.
Those programs will likely all be extended with the new facility, as could the reach of where the youth are coming from. Dowler is hoping to attract more people from the north shore with the new location.
“We were limited where we were because we could only lease certain time slots and space was limited,” Dowler said. “Having the equipment, people and personnel all in one spot will be amazing.”
Construction is currently underway on 10 volleyball courts – eight tournament-grade courts and two practice courts. The floors will feature teraflex, which is the same material used at international events and the Olympics, Dowler said.
The Sting is hoping to move into the building in February. The first tournaments are scheduled for April. Last year’s Badger State AAU competition was held over two weekends and included 100 teams, with 10 people on each team.
“When you do the math, a lot of people are in town for these tournaments,” Dowler said.
Menomonee Falls village manager Mark Fitzgerald said he’s pleased to see the warehouse is being rehabbed and reutilized.
The village had owned the building since 2011, when it obtained it from Kohl’s Corp. in exchange for a building in the Woodland Prime business park in Menomonee Falls.
Kohl’s had been leasing back space until the end of October. The company no longer needs the space since expanding its headquarters in Menomonee Falls. In June, the Kohl’s Innovation Center opened in a 366,000-square-foot converted factory warehouse.
“The Sting has a great national reputation,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a great use for the building. We’re excited about this. People will be traveling into the village for games and practices and spending money at our restaurants and retail.”
Coakley is also planning to lease between 35,000 and 90,000 square feet to Lamplight. The Menomonee Falls-based outdoor torch and citronella candle manufacturer has its headquarters in Menomonee Falls at W140 N4900 Lilly Road, but plans to move its warehouse and distribution from Pewaukee to Coakley’s building, Michael Coakley said.
Coakley is also negotiating with other prospective tenants for space in the building.
C.H. Coakley has 10 warehouses and this one is the second in Menomonee Falls. The other is on Commerce Drive.
“My operations guys love this area because they are fishing out of here for labor,” Coakley said. “This is our second launch into Menomonee Falls and it’s a good thing for the village. We’re not just a warehouse; we are part of the community.”