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Offices proposed for vacant gas station on North Avenue in Brookfield

Feb. 19, 2014

A local developer is looking to build a two-story office building on the southeast corner of North Avenue and 138th Street, where there is currently a vacant gas station and parking lot that hosts seasonal vendors.

Marian Mieczko, who operates Urszula and Company, and Distinctive Dry Cleaners, hopes to build a 13,465-square-foot modern office building primarily for medical specialties.

The property at 13785 W. North Ave. is zoned for single-family homes, but several city officials said they thought the location could be more successful for commercial use. The Plan Commission considered the concept Feb. 10.

"This would be challenged as a residential site," Alderman Rick Owen said, noting Waukesha County has scheduled North Avenue to become a four-lane divided highway in 2018. "It seems more fitting with what this proposal might be."

Planning Administrator Mike Theis said in the 23 years he has worked for the city, he hasn't seen anyone interested in building a house there.

"Currently, there's an abandoned gas station on the site and some asphalt that's been used for selling pumpkins," said Jeffrey Janetka, architect with Wahlgren-Schwenn. "Right now the site is virtually begging for something, in our minds."

Elm Grove weighs in

With Elm Grove residents situated just south of the proposed development, Brookfield staff has consulted with village staff about the plans. Village President Neil Palmer attended the Plan Commission meeting and said he agreed the site was not ideal for building a home.

"I would agree it is not a residential site, and a request to change it, in general, we would support," Palmer said. "Our concerns about what that development might be go mostly with how it affects the two adjoining residential properties directly."

Palmer urged city officials to pay close attention to stormwater management and landscape buffering on the site and asked that the owners of adjacent properties be given the chance to give feedback on the proposal.

Director of Community Development Dan Ertl said if the development moves forward, neighbors will be invited by mail to an information meeting and public hearing before any action is taken.

A modern look

Tim Janusz, a broker with MLG commercial who is representing Mieczko, said he thought a new office building would be successful due to the age of other office options in the area. He said many of the office spaces around the Mayfair and Brookfield submarkets are dated to the 1970s, with the exception of a handful like Lilly Centre that he said have been more successful because they are fresh.

"It's not a coincidence those properties perform better compared to the other submarkets, and they also drive the highest rents," Janusz said.

The architecture presented to the Plan Commission was meant to convey a contemporary feel, Janetka said.

"We are designing it to distinguish it from the typical office building," he said.

The design includes large windows with masonry, metal and glazing on the exterior.

Some members of the Plan Commission were less than thrilled. Owen called it "prison-like." Alderman Gary Mahkorn said it looked "institutional" and asked the architect to consider making some changes.

In order to move forward, the developer will have to request a public hearing for the zoning change.

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