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Brookfield has confidence - with a Capitol 'C' - in commercial corridor's future

Feb. 12, 2013

City economic leaders have maintained Brookfield's dedication to the vitality of Capitol Drive, despite the recent announcement of the closing of another business along the corridor.

Blockbuster, the national chain that has been struggling everywhere, said it will close its doors at 17345 W Capitol Drive on April 7, leaving an already shifting business corridor.

But that news hasn't initiated action in the city. Rather, the city has already been considering the present and future of the corridor, even prior to Blockbuster's announcement.

Jason Williams, neighborhood planner for the city, told the Plan Commission last month that plans for a Capitol Drive Corridor Study are in the works.

A closer look

The city is well aware of the changes coming into play on Capitol.

At the same meeting, Dan Ertl, director of community development, noted trends in commercial real estate use that have generated concerns about the vacancy rates for commercial and office properties along Capitol Drive.

The city may consider appointing a citizen task force to join the Capitol Drive Corridor update effort, Mayor Steve Ponto said.

Despite those trends, the city's Economic Development Committee said Capitol Drive is not dead.

In the January Economic Development Newsletter, the city said although Bluemound Road saw a majority of the new businesses that came to Brookfield in 2012, Capitol Drive was not neglected.

"The Capitol Drive Corridor experienced a strong influx of new businesses, even as highway reconstruction lasted through the entire year," said the newsletter, citing numerous examples.

Signs of growth

Krause Funeral Home began construction of its new facility on the far west end of Capitol Drive and Gumina Road.

Under new ownership, Sendik's Towne Centre, at Brookfield Road and Capitol Drive, reconfigured the main parking lot, and attracted a number of new tenants, including Georgie for Her and her Home, Jake's Burgers, Monkey Business Party & Gifts, Squire Fine Men's Apparel, and SweetFrog Frozen Yogurt.

PNC Green Branch bank opened at the Pick 'n Save-anchored shopping center at Calhoun Road and Capitol.

The old location of Mr. B's Steakhouse at 17700 W. Capitol Drive became Mozzaluna Pizzeria and Ristorante in May. (The new Mr. B's still operates at 18380 W. Capitol Drive.)

Fabric Corner, Batteries Plus, Sports Clips, and Café One24 Wine Bar and Grill all joined the 124th Street area, and a new 50,000-square-foot Xperience Fitness Center opened in the Shopper's World Center on 124th Street.

Study will help

Ertl said the Capitol Drive Corridor Study is meant to help the city cater to both residents and commercial developers.

"Based on an initial analysis, staff perceives the Capitol Corridor area as a substantial portion of the city's overall tax base," Ertl said. "The overall purpose of this planning effort is to ensure a stabilized and enhanced tax base in this area and protect the balance between residential and non-residential neighborhoods."

The plan process includes informal meetings with brokers, developers and owners, Plan Commission presentations, public information meetings, and a retail business survey.

The study is estimated to take 12 to 18 months.

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