Waukesha County development

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While Pabst Farms will be the big one, plenty of other development is under way

While the city of Milwaukee boasts of the information technology capabilities of its redeveloped downtown office structures, developers in Waukesha County are outfitting their new spec buildings from the ground up to be Internet-ready. But one of the hottest projects bears the name of one of the men that made Milwaukee famous.
"Probably the most exciting thing we’ve got going now is the Pabst Farms development in Oconomowoc," Bill Mitchell, executive director of the Waukesha County Economic Development Corp., said. "There will be a residential component to that, but most of it will be commercial."
Wispark Corp. is the developer of the Pabst Farms property. About half of the project area is part of a new Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) district, which will allow property taxes from users to be earmarked for infrastructure improvements to the sites. When the TIF is closed in 20 years, Pabst Farms would include retail stores, office buildings, suburban-style industrial parks and about 1,000 homes.
Another Waukesha County hot spot is the Moorland Road exchange with I-43 in New Berlin. The interchange is the site of the Westridge Business Park and the Towne Business Park. It is there that Luterbach Construction of New Berlin is erecting several speculative office/light industrial buildings, and GMR Marketing, a major-event marketing firm, is building its 70,000-square-foot headquarters building.
In the nearby Moorland Commons development, a new Target store is atypical in that, due to the city’s architectural requirements, it uses brick as a major architectural feature, according to development director Steven Hoese.
"The developer is creating a Target store unlike any other in the nation because we asked them to. There is room for three outbuildings and several additional businesses in the same strip as the Target," Hoese said. The area is also the site of a new Baymont Inn & Suites and, according to Hoese, may also see a Holiday Inn Express.
A number of developers have projects either slated or under way in the county.
Inland Companies is working on a 35,000-square-foot build-to-suit in Hartland. It hopes to break ground this spring. Inland also has slated a 32,000-square-foot project in the Gateway West Business Park in Brookfield. The Brookfield property will be built to suit with spec space attached to it. According to Scott Welsh of Inland, "We’ll start if the economy holds in. If the economy slips a little we’ll hold off on that. I personally think we’ll be OK."
According to company president Kevin Wahlgren, the development firm Wahlgren-Schwenn is involved in a 130,000-square-foot distribution center in Hartland for Lang Companies, a large locally-based producer and marketer of early American-theme memorabilia.
Wangard Partners has recently completed the first phase of a three-phase development at Eastgate Business Center in Brookfield at 131st Street and Lisbon Road.
According to Dan Jessup of Wangard, the development is "basically a three-phase 200,000-square-foot tech building development. Phase One is completed at 51,000 square feet, and available immediately. Phase Two is under construction at 68,000 square feet and scheduled for availability in spring of 2001. Phase Three will be started on a schedule to be determined. Features include redundant fiber-optic capability, the potential for two different electrical grids and a parking ratio of five spaces per thousand square feet of space. This development is high-end office and warehouse space. For this type of product you typically have two parking stalls per thousand square feet. We figure that it’s single story and it has an image element to it, so there’s likely to be more office build-out than warehouse. A typical percentage of office to warehouse space is 20% office and 80% warehouse. The ratio on this product might even be the inverse of that. This property is geared toward people who rely on image, and look for that in a facility. We’re going for technology users, and also distributors looking for image and requiring some warehouse capabilities."
Recent infrastructure improvements will also benefit the development.
"They just did a lot of revamping of 124th and Capitol," Jessup notes. "There were hundreds of thousands of dollars of road improvements, and we’ll benefit from that."
Ned Burtell of Inland is the agent for a three-story, 96,000-square-foot Class A office development in Riverwood Park, near Highway J and Riverwood Drive, Pewaukee. The project started entirely as a spec job, but as the steel is going up this month, a lease is almost signed for 64,000 square feet on two floors.
"This building features executive underground parking, two fiber providers – Ameritech and Time-Warner – a common conference room and five parking spaces per thousand square feet," Burtell said. "The development was started by Wisconsin Bell and Ameritech, when Ameritech bought land for a call center/corporate operations center in the late ’80s. Since then, they sold their remaining property to developers. We’re targeting tech companies like Sysco Systems, Compaq Computers and Smith Barney."
Burke Properties is developing the new Westbrook Corporate Center in Menomonee Falls. The development will take place in two phases, with a total of 125 acres in a TIF district.
"We’ve actually had two buildings under construction that are pretty interesting," said Paul Votto of Burke. "There is a 17.3-acre site that was sold to Kelch Corp., which is based in Cedarburg. This is a replacement for an existing facility they have in Mequon. The first building is 150,000 square feet. Another deal is for a 5.5-acre site for MERO Structures. They are based in Germantown, and this 40,000-square-foot building will be a replacement for their headquarters and manufacturing facility. We just started marketing this park in the middle of 2000. Of course we are also in negotiation with a number of other clients at this point."
Unlike some other developments in the area, Votto said the company is not specifically targeting Internet-dependent businesses with Westbrook Corporate Center. "We’re not specifically installing high-speed Internet, but it is certainly available. We’ve been assured by Ameritech that high-access lines are available as needed," he said.
MLG Commercial’s Waukesha County activities include a 76-acre development in Sussex – The Sussex Business Park and the 200-acre Sussex Corporate Center.
"We already have a number of committed companies," Andy Bruce of MLG said. "These include a large distribution facility. Multiple sites are available and appropriate for manufacturing and light industrial users. This business park includes the typical quality protective covenants found in most MLG projects with specific attention paid to protecting trees. We have just recently broken ground and installed roads in the park."
Telecommunications vendors to the project are putting in state-of-the-art Web connections, according to Bruce.
"It’s been our experience that in a location like this there are a number of vendors providing high-quality telecommunications. We generally facilitate that as opposed to getting involved in providing telecommunications ourselves," Bruce said.
Meanwhile, MLG has been busy elsewhere in Sussex with a light industrial manufacturing park development.
An MLG Commercial development in Hartford, the Cottonwood Commerce Center, is filling up, mostly with local companies. According to Sam Dickman of Dickman Co., one of the 45,000-square-foot Spancrete buildings has 9,000 square feet left. The buildings have docks and drive-ins with 20-foot clearance.

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