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Meijer Planned to Anchor Drexel Town Square

Developers have scrapped plans for junior box stores on the eastern third of the former Delphi property, saying a strong anchor store is needed to attract other tenants.

When plans for a town center on the former Delphi property were first presented, "junior box" stores were proposed for the eastern third of the 85-acre site, with some city officials and residents skewering the idea of a big box on the site.

Things have changed.

As the team leading the project began shopping the plan, centered on a new downtown for Oak Creek with high-end apartments on the west, one of the first questions often asked by prospective companies was, "who is anchoring the site?"

It became clear to developers they may need a big box store if they want to draw tenants to the downtown, where planners envision shops leading to a town square.

The collection of junior box stores, as first planned, wasn't going to be enough to draw other businesses in, Wispark President Jerry Franke said.

Enter Meijer, which is in talks to anchor the site with a 193,000-square-foot store. Meijer's name leaked out last month, and Franke confirmed negotiations Tuesday night. He said Meijer has submitted a proposed contract that is under review. 

"This is by no means a done deal from either party's perspective," Franke said. "Meijer will do its due dilligence process and the city will do its review and site plan approval review process. There will be myraid meetings down the road, at which time the plan will be thoroughly vetted."

And so begins the battle to approve Meijer, which immediately attracted opposition from the community when the possibility surfaced last month.

A public meeting is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Oak Creek Community Center in which residents can provide their input to leaders of the Drexel Town Square, to be developed at the corner of Drexel and Howell avenues.

Meijer seen as 'logical candidate'

While many residents have questioned whether Meijer is a good fit, Franke touted the company in a presentation Tuesday to the Oak Creek Common Council.

Michigan-based Meijer, which has proposed several new stores in the Milwaukee area, offers grocery and general merchandise. In addition to attracting restaurant and retail tenants, Meijer would generate tax revenue, create a large number of jobs and establish a high market-rate for the land, Franke said.

Meijer had conversations with the Drexel Town Square team off and on beginning in June 2011, Franke said.

Developers began zeroing in on Meijer after eliminating other possibilities that were either already nearby or planned to enter the Milwaukee market at other locations.

"We went through the process of elimination," said John Melaniphy of Melaniphy & Associates, a retail consultant working with the project team.

"Meijer was the logical candidate ... interested in the market, not in the market (currently), size of the store, sales and performance."

Oak Creek was also affected by its average household income, a huge factor that drives decisions like this one, Melaniphy said. The average household income in the city is $74,666, which is on the low end of comparable cities and limits what stores would be interested, according to Melaniphy.

Other Drexel Town Square components

Also at Tuesday's meeting, Franke introduced other partners working on the Drexel Town Square project.

Rick Barrett of Barrett Visionary Development is on board to develop the residential component of the plan.

Barrett is responsible for some of the most high-profile residential projects in the area. He recently completed the successful Moderne in downtown Milwaukee and was chosen to develop the Courtre, a 44-story lakefront tower planned to replace Downtown Transit Center.

Barrett is enthusiastic about the possibilities in Oak Creek. He said 500 to 600 high-end apartments are planned to be constructed in three phases on the western end of the site. About 170 units will be built in the first phase; the second and third phases will be bigger, with some rowhouses and townhomes, he said.

Along the way, about 4,000 construction jobs will be created over three to five years.

"I feel honored to be part of this team," Barrett said. "I think this project will have great success because of the people that are a part of this.

"This is where we want to put our next project. Multiple people calling me trying to get me to other cities — I want to be here."

Developing the downtown segment of the project is Blair Williams of Wired Properties. He has worked on Bayshore and other town centers, like Shorewood's Main Street.

He said he is dedicated to developing solid local retail for Oak Creek's new downtown. That, not Meijer, is going to be at the heart of this development, Williams said.

"This story is all about that portion of the site that is immediately west of the Meijer parking lot. This is about Main Street, this is about the town square, this is about the city hall, the 500 to 600 new residences that are going to be created at the west end of the site," Williams said.

"That story is completely compelling. It rises to a national-caliber story. It is rare a community the age of Oak Creek can completely redefine itself."

Michael January 16, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Pick n Save and Woodmans. Did we forget or are we willing to alienate Roundys Corporation and Woodmans who have been dedicated our community. I just don't see the need for another Grocer in a City of 34000 people. Bad choice but moreover, an out and out betrayal of why the citizens of Oak Creek got on board to move City Hall and the Library.
Terri January 16, 2013 at 09:03 PM
@Michael- I Thought exactly the same thing when I read this article. Too many large grocery stores in troo small an area. To lose Woodmans would be disastrous. Oak Creek officials and this team working on an anchor business need to think outside the box. Why is it always a food store that come first to their minds? There are many more feasible options for an anchor store.
Kelly Eaton Kimball January 16, 2013 at 09:07 PM
This is the stupidest idea that I've heard for Oak Creek yet. Why would they build another grocery store right next to Woodman's, a mile down the road from Pick n Save, and only a few more miles down is ANOTHER Pick N Save and a Sendicks. I guess they think Oak Creek likes to eat more than the average city.
James January 16, 2013 at 09:13 PM
The firm they hired to sell this space did a horrible job. They took the easy way out when their limited attempts to get businesses didn't work right away. This will go down as the biggest mistake in the history of this city. The idiots in charge have killed any hope for this space to improve the city. Why would we become a destination when they are building many of the same stores elsewhere in the area?
D January 16, 2013 at 09:53 PM
If you've actually been to a Mejiers store, you'd see it's more than a grocer. It's a Target and Wal-mart alternative, not just a grocer. As someone who moved to the area in the past few years, I've been disappointed with quality of grocers in the area compared to the 3 other cities I've lived in previously. Pick 'n Save produce never lasts more than a day after I buy it--it spoils--and Sendiks is way overpriced for groceries. I prefer to avoid Wal-mart if I can. Target is okay, but their grocery section isn't expansive enough to be my go-to store. Meijer could be just the store I need - finally a one-stop place with decent prices, good selection of products and quality food (especially meat and produce). My only question: What does this mean for the Meijers project planned in neighboring Franklin?
Tony Paladino January 16, 2013 at 10:39 PM
I'm sure Mejiers is a fine store. The idea that a grocery store anchor what should be a destination place is not sitting well with me. The City needs to step up and approach IKEA, or similar store, to discuss what it would take to get them here. Between Franklin, and Oak Creek as well as the scores of people coming from all over to shop should be plenty to keep IKEA busy and entice others to open shop. Would I be against a Mejiers? No, just not at this location.
BringBackOakCreek09 January 16, 2013 at 11:38 PM
The city council has to have gone brain dead on this one. We have how many grocery stores in oak creek? How is two huge grocery stores directly next to each other going to attract "High End" businesses.... That was the city councils day one agenda, High end. The city is overwhelming itself with too many projects and as it looks. These projects will end up as huge cobbled together messes.This is really a slap in the face to phil woodman. What has happened to Oak Creek.
shock January 17, 2013 at 01:30 AM
I like the IKEA idea the best. No more grocery stores are needed.
Andy January 17, 2013 at 02:34 AM
IKEA or even a Trader Joes would be way better choices... at least Trader Joes offers somewhat alternative food then the same pick n save and woodmans choices...
JR January 17, 2013 at 03:53 AM
Meijer is indeed a Target/Wal-Mart alternative, but not at all what we need. Target is right down the street and Wal-Mart is on 27th St. in Franklin, not to mention all of the previously-stated grocery stores in the area. This is an awful idea and the concerned people of OC should show up to the meeting on 2/11 to voice their disapproval. I voted for Mayor Scaffidi and his platform of positive development of the Delphi site. Now, I feel completely misled in what appears to have been a bait and switch to build a new town hall and library.
vocal local 1 January 17, 2013 at 09:38 AM
Quit the crying. Too little too late. Where were all of you when we were fighting against expansion of the power plant? Where were you when we were fighting to implement and maintain Direct Legislation? Now it's a done deal and just the start of those decided in closed session. Wait until city officials drop the "big Bomb" and move City Hall out of the Delphi Plan and onto the lake front. Lots of eyes and voices are closed and silent on developmental plans and if you object your ignored. Your solution is to get another part time job to pay expected rises in taxes or go under. I don't accept mean income at $74,666. Last I read it was 52 or 54,000. This data may have been off set by the numbers of late middle aged persons who bought foreclosed properties in recent years but I don't think so.
zzz January 17, 2013 at 01:20 PM
You guys voted and this what you get...Sounds to me a glorified Walmart / Target is the new Oak Creek..
OC Mom January 17, 2013 at 03:31 PM
I agree JR! Mayor Scaffidi and Council, this is clearly a bad choice and listen to the people for once!
livingintheOC January 17, 2013 at 04:30 PM
I sent him an email about a month ago after I heard about this being a possibility. I have not received a reply. I don't email the city much but I did once to the engineer and once when they ripped up the road in front of my house with no warning and once to Bolender about the lake front. Both got back to me with satisfactory answers. Just saying. Also, I've changed my tune a bit on this one so read my next post.
livingintheOC January 17, 2013 at 04:43 PM
So here is my take on this since originally hating the Meijer idea. What is a good anchor? I've emailed a few friends that live near Meijers and I have been to them a long time ago and their take is this: Good store. cheaper than target on home goods, way better than walmart like that is hard to do and good food at good prices. They don't have a woodmans to compare too though. I don't think we need another grocery store but it is more than that. I'm not sure we can talk them into having less food and more "other stuff." We could rake them over the coals to pay for part of the library though. They seem to champion their philanthropic endeavors. Also, the delphi site is quite large. If the store faces Howell I'm not sure it detract that much from the rest of the very large space. Could Woodmans be the anchor? I have friends that drive from downtown every week to shop there. An Ikea would be awesome but they are quite particular about where they build and only go where there is a very large population. Kansas City is just now getting one. I would rather see that south of Ryan though as it creates a traffic nightmare. What anchor then? Bayshore has a Kohls and a Sears. We already have a Kohls and I'm not sure Sears is better than a brand new store brand in the state.
Mark Schaaf January 17, 2013 at 05:39 PM
As far as Ikea, that's not happening....like was mentioned in the previous comment, they are very selective and, from what I was told and from what I can tell, don't build at sites that aren't directly off the freeway. The freeway issue in general makes it tougher...as busy as Drexel and Howell is, it's nowhere near the traffic counts the freeway provides, and that seems to be part of the reason why retailers want an anchor to help drive traffic there before they commit.
Let's Dbate January 17, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Can we find an Anchor that does not take up half the site for parking. What an eysore. We need more upscale resturants.
Chuck Cook January 17, 2013 at 11:55 PM
What about Potter"s Piggly Wiggly and Blain's another one for them to compete with? They Both been here for along time, every time they build another store they take more of there business away. They want to build high end apartments next to the rail road tracks, would you live there? I think they should rethink this idea.
jack ryan January 18, 2013 at 02:32 AM
This is heading down a bad path. I wonder if wispark is promoting this to get their money? I would continue with the original plan even if it takes longer Meijers is nothing to celebrate about.
rodbuster rich January 18, 2013 at 02:39 AM
The land has been vacant for such a long time why rush it now? Maybe to be a town hero. Idiots! Just do it and get it over with and quit stringing us along like voiceless puppets
Betty Kienzle January 18, 2013 at 02:47 AM
Why not build a warehouse to go along with all the other warehouses on our main street? There is nothing high end about Oak Creek. This Drexel development was supposed to be the "crown jewel" of Oak Creek. Putting a grocery store/Walmart next to Woodmans is insane. If the smaller stores are looking for an anchor, why can't Woodmans be the anchor? Did the developer even mention Woodmans? It is time to rethink this project and find a developer that can deliver on what is needed to improve the city instead of going for the quick dollar. High end apartments next to the railroad tracks? Really?
Dan Vitek January 18, 2013 at 01:16 PM
Like always are Mayor and aldermen get taken in by the flim flam bunch ,its about about time we show the whole bunch the door ,they do not repersent the people only there own agenda
Tony Paladino January 19, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Betty, I agree with you. The City of Oak Creek needs to wait this out for a better offer. My vision of this development is closer to a Bayshore.
Tony Paladino January 19, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Betty, I agree with you. The City of Oak Creek needs to wait this out for a better offer. My vision of this development is closer to a Bayshore.
Esme Grichologiza January 23, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Oak Creek doesn't seem to have a taste for the shops of Bayshore--too many townies here. I can't imagine that stores will be lining up to build on this land. Also, the area surrounding the development site isn't exactly luxurious--the site is basically an island in the middle of a sea of fast food outlets next to a no-frills concrete grocery warehouse store. A craft store, book store, accessories shop (Charming Charlie, etc.), Old Navy, sporting goods, stores to interest teens/tweens, etc. might do good here and possibly not go out of business. Meijer sounds horrible, especiallly if the one in Franklin is also built. I guess it would help eliminate overpopulation of OC by keeping people from moving there. Locals would probably like that.
Esme Grichologiza January 23, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Really, people--IKEA? IKEA being supporting by Franklin and OC? There are less than 40 IKEA stores in the U.S. with 2 already in the Chicago metro area. There isn't a chance that the Milwaukee metro area shoppers would fit in with the IKEA concept, let along Franklin/OC.

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