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Wimmer apartments, retail envisioned as catalyst for waking up 'tired' corner

This preliminary conceptual plan from Wimmer Communities shows the beginning of a pathway that could stretch southeast from the proposed Poplar Creek Club through other properties.

This preliminary conceptual plan from Wimmer Communities shows the beginning of a pathway that could stretch southeast from the proposed Poplar Creek Club through other properties.

March 3, 2014

Mark Wimmer, president of Wimmer Communities, said he hopes his proposal to build apartments and retail space will help unify the properties on the northeast corner of Bluemound and Janacek roads as owners redevelop them.

But not all the town of Brookfield plan commissioners were convinced the project would have that effect, and a needed zoning change to all mixed-use development there only narrowly gained the panel's recommendation, 3-2.

Wimmer Communities would like to build 117 apartment units and 5,700 square feet of retail space across Bluemound Road from the Corners development. Waukesha County has the ultimate authority in deciding if the land-use change, covering 7.45 acres of vacant land along Jennifer Drive, will be permitted.

A starting place

With three apartment buildings situated along Poplar Creek and a central office building facing southeast, Wimmer envisions a future pathway extending from the Poplar Creek Club apartments southeast through the other properties on that corner.

"It's the critical starting point for a long-term, mixed-use plan in this quadrant," Wimmer said. "It offers a central town square design concept and provides a pedestrian friendly environment to create an integrated neighborhood."

Some town officials worried that allowing one part of the corner to develop first would result in a lack of unity in the area.

"I'm concerned about the follow-through by the other properties in this area," Town Supervisor John Schatzman said. "Personally I'd like to see this go through, but I'm concerned particularly about Motel 6 and Quality Inn becoming impediments because they're making money hand over fist."

Wimmer said although he would like to be able to design more of the corner, the reality is the other property owners are not looking to sell. He said past attempts to put the whole corner under one ownership have failed.

"We're offering a kick start," Wimmer said. "We're looking to continue to invest in the corner but we're not going to be able to buy something until someone wants to sell it. Even though it would be wonderful to paint the whole picture for the corner, I just don't think it's going to happen. I think we offer the next best thing."

Town Supervisor Steve Kohlman said he believes Wimmer's plan creates a backbone for future development.

"Should this go through, I think it would be a much needed facelift for the area which, in my opinion, has grown a little tired," he said.

Generating revenue

Schatzman added that he thinks the development would be a valuable addition to the tax-incremental financing district it would share with the Corners, Marcus Corp.'s retail development planned for just across Bluemound.

Wimmer said his company will not ask for any contribution from the town, and that his development would generate $200,000 each year in property taxes, the majority of which will help repay the TIF debt until the district closes.

Citizen members of the Plan Commission Len Smeltzer and Mike Schmitt voted against the change.

"I agree with a lot of the things you're saying," Smeltzer told Wimmer. "I'm just not sold this would be the catalyst that would create that."

If the land-use change goes through at the county level, Wimmer said, he plans to work closely with town staff to develop more detailed plans.

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