Waukesha receives three proposals to redevelop Delafield Street site

Bear Development's proposed Delafield Street redevelopment. (Rendering: Engberg Anderson Architects)

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:47 pm

The city of Waukesha has received three proposals to redevelop a five-acre site just north of its downtown.

Developers vying for the project primarily envision residential housing, but have also pitched some commercial uses.

The city has for some time looked to redevelop as much as five acres along Delafield Street just north of downtown. The site is across the street from Waukesha City Hall, where a new city hall building will be constructed beginning this year.

The development site is separated into two zones. Zone A is nearly 3.4 acres located at 318 and 200 Delafield St., and currently consists of a former automotive repair facility and vacant land. The roughly 1.5-acre Zone B is the current location of the City Hall Annex Building just south of Zone A. The city’s Department of Public Works plans to vacate this building upon completion of the new city hall building, which is anticipated to be in 2021.

In February, the city issued a request for proposals for potential redevelopment projects at the site. Responses to the RFP were due Friday afternoon. The city received three in all, with proposals coming from Kenosha-based Bear Development, Waukesha-based Berg Management Co. and a single proposal coming from Madison-based Horizon Development Group Inc. and Elm Grove-based Luther Group.

Berg’s proposal consisted primarily of residential uses. The proposal provided two options, with the first being 66 townhomes that would result in a total development value of nearly $10.6 million. Its second option would be to construct two apartment buildings totaling 56 units behind 44 townhomes, with an estimated development value of $13.2 million.

The townhouses would be two stories, with ground-level garages and second-floor living spaces. A parking lot for the apartment buildings would be placed behind the first row of townhouses. Monthly rents would range from $1,250 to $3,749.

The proposal does provide an option to include a commercial component. In a letter to the city dated March 14, Alan Huelsman, general manager of Berg, noted that one of the townhouses could be easily replaced with a commercial building.

For its part, Bear envisions a multi-generational development totaling 87 dwelling units. This consists of a 69-unit, 110,200-square-foot, four-story mixed-income senior housing building that would also include 5,000 square feet of commercial or amenity space. The apartment building would offer one- and two-bedroom units, and the commercial space would be located at the southernmost portion of the building, near the intersection of Delafield Street and Madison Street.

The senior apartment would be built in Zone A. In Zone B, Bear plans to build 18 two-story, three-bedroom, freestanding townhouses that would carry no age restrictions. Altogether, the townhouses would total 34,000 square feet.

“This project will be a state-of-the-art, mixed-use development that capitalizes on the rising demand for multi-generational housing,” the developer wrote in its proposal. “With experience in this unique housing structure, Bear is well-positioned for success.”

The proposal submitted by Horizon and Luther features a mixed-use, 80-unit building consisting of senior apartments and 7,500 square feet of first-floor commercial space.

The four-story building would go up in Zone A, and would include a clubroom with kitchen, exercise room, storage lockers and on-site leasing office. The proposal also provides an idea of what type of tenants would lease the commercial space, including a wellness studio, travel agency, coffee shop and neighborhood retail.

“At this conceptual stage, we have not yet identified specific tenants but believe this type of space would attract users with synergies to senior housing and possibly small service related or consulting businesses,” the development team stated in its proposal.

The project would yield an estimated property value of around $9.3 million.

Plans for Zone B are more conceptual, the developers note, but possible uses include hospitality, medical or additional retail. Or, they could put up more residential units, especially if it would serve a different market segment than the senior apartments.

Conceptual drawings show a 50,000-square-foot, 80-room hotel; a two-story, 22,000-square-foot medical office building; and 14,7000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, divided for three tenants in Zone B.

Scott Kwiecinski, development manager with Horizon, said the plans for Zone B are not as concrete in part because of time constraints. If its proposal is selected, the firm would look forward to working with the city to finalize its plans at the site, he added.

Kwiecinski said the demographics of Waukesha support more senior housing.

“I think our project can be successful,” he said.

Last summer, the city sent out a Request for Expressions of Interest for the Delafield Street redevelopment site. Responses from the development community primarily included residential development or mixed uses, said Jeff Fortin, Waukesha senior planner.

The city used the responses it received from those submissions to write the RFP.

This was done to get developers’ takes on what would best be developed at the site, rather than have the city dictate what it thinks should go there, Fortin said.

The city’s Redevelopment Authority is set to consider the three proposals tonight. The authority can either recommend a specific proposal to the City Council, or it may determine two “finalists” and call in developers for further details, said Fortin.

Whatever proposal is eventually chosen by city officials, the developer would work with the city to craft more detailed plans before closing on the property, he added.

According to the RFP, downtown Waukesha has witnessed several years of reinvestment and revitalization. “Downtown has become a destination for all of Waukesha County residents seeking a unique variety of independently owned restaurants, bars, shops and art galleries along with year-round special events including the weekly Farmer’s Market and Friday Night Live and Tribute Tuesday concert series,” the RFP states.

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Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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