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Angst Over Meijer Persists

Residents attending a public meeting Monday on the Drexel Town Square project continued to express skepticism on a proposal for Meijer to anchor the development.

Though numerous components make up the Drexel Town Square development project, it's the Meijer store that continues to be the central focus for Oak Creek residents.

More than 200 residents turned out at a public meeting Monday night and got a closer look at the plans and an opportunity to ask questions of the people leading the project.

Over about 90 minutes, a few general opinions about the development seemed apparent.

Many people looked favorably on plans for the new downtown, where first-floor shops and second-floor apartments lead to a town square.

So, too, did residents generally seem fine with the 500 to 600 apartments planned on the west end of the site.

But on the east end of the site, where a Meijer store is proposed, it was a different story.

"There's no special aspect of it, to me, that is going to draw people from outside Oak Creek to it," said Garett Kucifer, an Oak Creek resident and business owner in the Market Place Village.

"And that's what I find disappointing. We need something more unique."

It's clear Oak Creek residents aren't completely sold on the project, even though many can see its benefits should it turn out successful.

On Monday, they got the most in-depth look at Drexel Town Square to date, including an animation that displayed a 3-dimensional view of what the site might look like.

It showed a vibrant town center packed with amenities Oak Creek has never before seen. The town square, for instance, will host a variety of community activities, such as a farmers market or ice skating. New restaurants, too, are a big part of the project.

"It's a good thing for the community," resident Nicole Zielski said. "I just want to make sure it has all the right things that's going to do well with the community."

Oak Creek aldermen, who must approve the plans, have heard the concerns about a big box store throughout the last few weeks and again on Monday.

Some of them, too, are lukewarm about Meijer. But as one city official put it, it's a package deal. The city can't have the town center without Meijer.

And even if aldermen did reject Meijer, they would face a reality of building a new city hall and library with no development around it. It could be years before another anchor store would come along, and even council members who aren't convinced about Meijer say they won't allow that to happen.

"As both an Oak Creek taxpayer and alderman, what I don't want to see is the property go undeveloped for a number of years as we wait for the perfect anchor to come forward," Alderman Jim Ruetz said.

Those leading the Drexel Town Square project say the Meijer component is just that—one component. Rick Barrett and Blair Williams, who are developing the residential and downtown portions of the project, respectively, look at Meijer as an advantage.

They said in an interview last week that Meijer will be a catalyst, a business that will help facilitate the project by assuring potential retailers and restaurateurs that people will come to the site.

"From my perspective, having an obligation to lease a fair amount of retail space, it's very important there be traffic generation like what Meijer can provide," Williams said.

But to this point, Meijer's inclusion has prevented Drexel Town Square from garnering widespread community support. The buzz from residents that Meijer isn't high-end enough and would add to a large number of big boxes already on Howell Avenue hasn't gone away.

"Meijer is just, to me," Kucifer said, "another Walmart, another Target."

livingintheOC February 13, 2013 at 08:39 PM
The average size of a Mejeir store is 200-250 sqft. Would you like it better if the increased the size to the 250k max? Like everyone here I ask for your suggestion of a better store. http://www.hoovers.com/company-information/cs/company-profile.Meijer_Inc.65f4d9d21ea3b4c4.html
livingintheOC February 13, 2013 at 08:52 PM
I like this dome idea. The first real alternative I've heard. Personally I would never go there but I think there should be a train track buffer. Would a ball on the edge fall in the hole when a train went by? Just curious.
zzz February 13, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Leaders??? Oak Creek has followers...
livingintheOC February 13, 2013 at 09:04 PM
While I love Ikea and have been hoping for a Milwaukee one for decades I don't think they are interested. The require a certain number of people and demographics; something I don't think we have yet. Kansas City is just now getting one.
livingintheOC February 13, 2013 at 09:08 PM
What about Costco? Not the best thing ever but I think it would be more of a Draw for people farther away.
Judy timber February 13, 2013 at 09:36 PM
My suggestion is to ask Trader Joe's - or World market which was posted earlier. Something different. I personally love the idea of The Drexel market, but I can only hope that make it like Bay Shore Mall with the stores they have up there so we don't have to make that drive any longer!
Kelly Jo February 13, 2013 at 09:48 PM
I agree. It would be a dream to have some of the retailers found at Bayshore or in Brookfield nearby. We drive to shop at these places now so imagine how much business they would get if they were located in town. I would love to have a place in town to buy children's clothes, shoes, sporting equipment other than boring old Target and Kohl's. I would be very interested to find out how much research was done to find an adequate anchor. Meijer certainly doesn't seem very well thought out. If their aim is warehouse type of store that would draw people, I reluctantly would have to go with Costco. I'm not a fan, but I know many people are. It was successfully added to the Grafton area without destroying their retail market.
Kelly Jo February 13, 2013 at 09:49 PM
I guess I should clarify before someone jumps in--clothes and shoes other than Carhartt and the like that would be found at Meijer (and already found locally at Farm & Fleet)..................
Forward Thinking Citizen February 13, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Someone asked for suggestions on stores to go in. Here would be some ideas (shops, restaurants, entertainment, etc.) that might work for the area: Dick's Sporting Goods, Michaels, Old Navy, REI, DSW, Crate & Barrel, Whole Foods (if it must be grocery, let it be good and a different niche), ipic Theater or similar cinema grill, Ragstock, StirCrazy, Hu Hot, etc. While I'm not a fan of either of these but I do think a Dave & Buster's or a children's play complex like a Pump It Up would do great. I know Jump Zone is in Franklin but, as a parent, it pales in comparison to a well-run Pump It Up location.
livingintheOC February 13, 2013 at 10:21 PM
I just thought of Costco too. Right now I go to Sam's on 27th(Franklin) and I'm not that impressed but it does save some money and they have stuff I can't get elsewhere. 2 years ago I actually went the Costco in Grafton to buy my kids swingset because I liked it more than the Sam's version. Point being it could draw people from farther away than a Miejer would. It also doesn't seem like it would turn dumpy. Whereas the Meijer could but either way it is no Walmart.
Jim February 13, 2013 at 10:36 PM
I think it should be a giant sports comples with Baseball fields, football fields and i guess soccer fields. Indoor facility for basketball, hockey etc.
Tim February 13, 2013 at 11:25 PM
And just how well do you think the golf dome will do? Just as good as the dome that's now gone at the end of 27th Street and 8 mile in Franklin.
Tim February 13, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Why are so many people hell bent on getting Ikea in here? All they sell is cheap imported stuff. I couldn't find one thing made in America there. Am I the only one that looks for American made products anymore? You want upscale with a side benefit of American made products? How about LL Bean? Upscale enough for everyone?
livingintheOC February 13, 2013 at 11:50 PM
I don't think we are a big enough market for ikea anyway. Funny you say that. While I'm sure Ikea doesn't have that much American made products(who does) but I find it refreshing that they have little China made stuff. I got this shelf there 2 years ago and it was made in America! Drive down and pick one up this weekend. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40047675/
Be Logical February 14, 2013 at 12:57 AM
I agree with the comment that says "take a breath". It would help if the conspiracy wingnuts (one in particular) would stop their constant barrage of negativity against the elected officials, the city staff, and the developers. The electeds live in our city, pay taxes like everybody else, and from my conversations with them are interested in doing what's best for the city and its residents. Why wouldn't they, they live here as well. This development, if you listened to the people who actually made the presentations and were present at the various display boards, has the potential to increase the tax base significantly. Cities have to invest in infrastructure if they want to succeed. The cities that don't, are having significant problems, which are only going to get worse. Last point, the market dicates what developers can do, not city hall. If a company like Meijers feels they can come into this city and run a successful business, then that is the very definition of free enterprise. Read a paper, read the Milwaukee Business Journal or the BizTimes, and get a honest appraisal of what this proposal is. PLEASE don't base your opinion on some of the nonsense and insanity that some of the commentors are trying to pass off as enlightened opinion. And I said some, I don't have a problem with someone if they disagree with the Meijers option, that's a reasonable difference of opinion, which is healthy.
oak creek resident February 14, 2013 at 01:44 AM
What is the panic with you people? You are going to get your other shops that you want. Not one of you even has a concern about what will be in those shops. All you care about is Meijers not being able to have a store here. I welcome Meijers and hope that they will be able to have a store in Oak Creek. Woodmans is a mad house all the time. It's constantly packed and Meijers will be a pleasant change. It seems some of you think it's Meijers is not good enough for you. You want a high end store. If that is the case, then ask the council to put "high end" shops on the other end of the project. Meijers has a wonderful reputation and has a lot to offer. It's good enough for me. Stop complaining and be glad that more people will be able to have jobs.
jack ryan February 14, 2013 at 03:49 AM
Golf Dome not that far away went out of business.
jack ryan February 14, 2013 at 03:54 AM
Good suggestions. Duplicate some of the stores at Mayfair, Bayshore or Brookfield Square. Don't need all of them just enough to attract $$$ and give ourselves better options. Apple Store for one.
Resident of O.C. Paul February 14, 2013 at 05:08 AM
In regards to the Golf Dome Idea, location... location... location. Who knows, maybe having one within walking distance of high-end apartments will be a draw. The golf dome on 27th street, what was it close to? It was in an area with very little around it, and it was further down 27th street, probably further than people cared to travel to get to it.
Resident of O.C. Paul February 14, 2013 at 05:18 AM
a couple nice clothing stores, and/or a shoe store...something with more or different to offer than the offerings at Kohl's, Target, and Blain's would be nice. A nice coffee shop would be good, something like an Alterra. maybe a bagel shop? or an ice cream parlor? Or a cards and gifts shop, like a Hallmark store. Or as I mentioned earlier, a World Market, or something along that line. There is potential here, but get tenants lined up so that you know how much needs to be built before you exhaust the space and overbuild to the point that 50% of the store fronts are never rented.
Curious in OC February 14, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Haven't heard one word about Xperience Fitness building a new club in the Square, yet this is what I have been told. Anyone know if this is part of the plans?
Stacy S. February 14, 2013 at 06:00 PM
A Gold's Gym would be nice. Real equipment, locker rooms, towel service, etc. Something better than the tiny sweatbox gyms that are already in town.
Stacy S. February 14, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Oak creek resident---I think everyone is worried about high end shops not taking an interest in the development if Meijer (a discount big box) is the anchor. It's not a draw and not known for attracting nice outlots. Think along the lines of Great Clips, banks, and fast food. Exactly what OC does not need more of. The choice of a good anchor is detrimental to the entire project and, in turn, the future economy of the community.
Lisa February 15, 2013 at 05:14 PM
For those of you who are opposed to a big box/Meijer at the Drexel Town Square, you are not alone! Join our group, and let's unite together to have our voices heard. Contact me at nomeijerinoc@gmail.com for more information.
Resident of O.C. Paul February 15, 2013 at 05:43 PM
"Last point, the market dictates what developers can do, not city hall."??? If I'm not mistaken, city hall has the power to give out building permits, they set the building codes, the city planning commission studies the impact on the city. The zoning commission handles zoning permits. The city has the power to allow a business to move into the city or not. The market does not dictate to a city that they must allow a business to settle into the city. The market only tells the developer whether the market climate is favorable to developing an area. "If a company like Meijers feels they can come into this city and run a successful business, then that is the very definition of free enterprise." And the city has the power to allow or disallow them to set up shop in the city. Again, I'm not trying to look at this negatively. I think aspects of the project have good potential, while others will hamper what the city's, and resident's vision is. And certain types of stores have the potential of being a detraction for the type of people and businesses they want to draw into the area.
Young Oak Creek February 17, 2013 at 01:25 PM
I wish it were Trader Joe's, Outpost, or Whole Foods if the anchor had to be in that realm. Meijer will make it feel like just another strip mall and certainly not bring in an upscale clientele if that is the goal. As a younger family with kids in a middle/upper middle class bracket, we'd love to be able to spend more time and money in our own community rather than having to go downtown/west for dining, shopping, and family fun.
Young Oak Creek February 17, 2013 at 01:28 PM
As far as restaurants, look at Joey Gerard's in Greendale. You have a proven name in the Bartolotta group and decent range of price points because they don't have as high of rent to cover like all downtown/west suburb restaurants face, and it is packed even on weeknights.
Jodi February 19, 2013 at 05:21 PM
What's also sad about this project is the number of empty spaces and, in some cases, totally empty shopping centers in this city. I wish we could try to attract some viable businesses to fill the empty shopping centers at the corner of Howell and Rawson, Howell and Ryan (Wheaton building and also the Maritime Savings building), across from the Post Office (containing Children of America only), old Fashion Bug, old Famous Footwear, etc. Some of these are eyesores. This should be an embarrassment to the city that we cannot attract and retain retail to stay. Let's focus on this and then think about the new development plans.
Lisa March 09, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Hey folks, why don't we take this discussion directly to our aldermen...there are two "listening sessions" coming up: Aldermen Tom Michalski is hosting one today at City Hall from 10am to noon, and Alderman Dan Jakubczyk, who is up for re-election next month, is hosting one next Saturday (3/16) from 9am to noon.
Ed Senger May 11, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Take a look at Brady Street, Farwell, or the Third Ward. All very successful areas with multiple small local businesses. From unique clothing stores, sporting goods stores, bicycle shops and multiple cafes these areas are very vibrant without a big box anchor. Woodman's abuts the site- why not consider that the anchor and the draw if needed? The propensity of all the large format retailers on Howell will most likely mean the failure of one. If we are insistent on another food store let's do something different - Trader Joes would offer a uniquely different type of food store as would Sendiks, Brennans or Metcalfe's Sentry.

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