WillowTree Development to purchase Delphi site in Oak Creek

Milwaukee-based WillowTree Development LLC plans to purchase the former Delphi property in Oak Creek, according to Milwaukee commercial real estate industry sources.

WillowTree principal Michael DeMichele could not be reached for comment.

WillowTree was part of a partnership that sold a former Delphi parcel to Janesville-based Woodman’s Food Markets Inc. for the grocery store on Howell Avenue in Oak Creek. WillowTree has also built other retail development, or sold lots to other developers, on former Delphi property on Howell Avenue.

"They’ve been pretty active with those sites," said Oak Creek director of community development Doug Seymour.

Delphi Corp. has a tentative agreement to sell its former Oak Creek plant, confirmed Dan Jessup, president of Brookfield-based Grubb & Ellis|Apex Commercial. Grubb & Ellis|Apex Commercial is marketing the site for Delphi. However, Jessup declined to disclose the identity of the buyer.

"It is under contract," Jessup said. "It is scheduled to close, hopefully, by the end of the year."

The former Delphi plant, located on an 85-acre site at the southwest corner of Howell and Drexel avenues, closed last year. At one time 1,450 people worked there.

City officials want to see the vacant structure on the property torn down and the site redeveloped, predominantly with retail uses.

"Our vision is still for a mixed use development with a substantial retail component," Seymour said.

However, the redevelopment of the property is going to take a long time because few retailers in the country are expanding right now and several major retail chains already have a presence in the area, said one commercial real estate source. However, Howell Avenue has been successful in attracting retail development in recent years, the source said.

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