A Chicago developer may be setting a precedent as it repurposes Wauwatosa’s warehouses into a shopping center.
On the west side of Wauwatosa, empty warehouse buildings from the 1950's and 1960's stood abandoned for years.
But in 2005, Chicago-developer HSA Commercial Real Estate began buying the land that the buildings stood on, acquiring the last of it in 2007.
Tim Blum, the managing general partner from HSA, says the firm wanted to repurpose the buildings and land to create a new area of Wauwatosa called the Mayfair Collection.
“Looking, reevaluating the buildings that were on the site, we determined that we could recycle them,” says Blum.
Thus began an extensive “creative reuse" project off US 45 at Burleigh Street that is still underway today. Blum, working with Wauwatosa's 8th District Alderman Craig Wilson, decided to create a unique shopping experience for people in the metropolitan area, bringing in “best in class” fashion promotional tenants (as opposed to private boutique and independent business owners).
Businesses potentially coming in include Nordstrom’s Rack, Saks Off Fifth, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. The drive behind having these businesses is to help promote the Mayfair Mall.
Wilson says that the city knew that portion of the city needed to be renovated long before Blum came in. The size they are working with is equal to the amount of land between Miller Park and Harley-Davidson.
Blum and Wilson says that this is going to be a 5-10 year process and the retail is just Phase 1. Phase 2 is to bring in residential areas and possibly some office space. Blum wants to establish this business district to encourage people to move over to that part of town.
Meanwhile, other communities are keeping a close eye on the project, which could become the precedent for abandoned and empty lots in the Milwaukee area.