Wal-Mart Proposal Came After Three Years of Marketing To Other Developers

The high cost of the redevelopment of the U.S. Bowling Congress site might have discouraged other developers.

The owners of the U.S. Bowling Congress building and Village officials said that the site that has been vacant for 18 months was marketed to numerous developers for three and half years without success until Wal-Mart made a proposal.

The proposed Wal-Mart would be built on the USBC site and will include a grocery market, pharmacy and some limited general merchandise. Also at the site would be two out lots for development by future tenants.

The planning commission voted on Wednesday night to table the review of the proposed Wal-Mart for the June 8 meeting per staff recommendation. The staff is still working with Wal-Mart developers to address concerns raised by the planning consultant and village engineer.

Village president John Hermes and representatives of the USBC have said that it would be extremely expensive to redevelop the property and that made it difficult to find interested developers and buyers.

Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world and brought in a net profit of $16.4 billion last year.

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, representatives of the U.S. Bowling Congress, Inc., wrote a letter to the village detailing three and half years of marketing history of the USBC building.



Jack Mordini, retired USBC vice president, began discussions with brokers and potential buyers in 2008. That same year Mordini received a letter of intent from a Wisconsin retailer but the retailer backed out due to the economy.

During that same year USBC also received letters of intent, offers, and inquiries from a national retail developer and two local retail developers. They also received separate offers from two brokers who were interested in purchasing the property for development.

The offers were not followed through. USBC even spoke with brokers of some big box stores “but there was little interest” in the property.


USBC listed the property for sale with Boerke and Co. in 2009.  Soon after a local retailer made an offer to purchase and was discussing relocating a retailer from Southridge Mall into the USBC property, however, that offer was also terminated in August 2009.

Boerke and Co. showed the property to other local and national retail developers, big box retailers, grocery stores and healthcare providers.

USBC vacated the property in late 2009.

USBC then signed a listing agreement with CB Richards Ellis in October 2009. CBRE focused on offices, schools, and retailers. CBRE determined that there was a limited market for office space that would use the large USBC building.  Office tenants would have needed to do major redevelopment to bring the building to modern standards­­­­ — a very costly project.

CBRE also tried talking with various colleges that were leasing spaces in downtown Milwaukee but determined that they were not candidates.

Before a purchase agreement was signed with Gatlin Development Co., Inc, Wal-Mart’s developers, CBRE showed and discussed the property with several big box users, local and national retail developers, theater operators, grocery operators, health care providers, office developers, call center users, furniture and electronic retailers, and health club operators.

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP ended the letter saying, “In today’s economy, it takes a developer with an outstanding relationship with an anchor tenant to make a deal work. Developer-user relationships like Gatlin/Wal-Mart relationships are very unique.”


The current property where Wal-Mart would be is valued at $4 million. Once development is done the value of the property would go up to about $10 million or more, which would go towards the village’s tax base, according to village officials.

Hermes and village manager Todd Michaels said that the village also went out and sought tenants to occupy that building, one of which was Trader Joe's.

“We hear that name all the time and we went very high in the chain because we understood they needed a second Milwaukee location,” said Hermes, referring to the first Trader Joe's in Glendale. “They declined the Southridge Market.”

A public hearing before the Board of Trustees is scheduled for June 7 and a planning commission meeting will be held on June 8.

Concerned For Greendale May 12, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Amazing! For three years developers walked away from this location but Walmart wants it. What does Walmart know that the other developers don't know? What does Walmart plan to do once they"get their nose in under the tent flap" and our Greendale Trustees are over a barrel? Do the people of Greendale really want a Walmart on 76th Street. It is bad enough that Southridge has turned into an eyesore; why add to it. Go the the meetings on June 7th and June 8th and let the Board of Trustees and the Planning Commission know that Greendale doesn't want and doesn't need Walmart.
Bren May 12, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Interesting that we hear about all of this now. Trader Joe's was brought by a Greendale resident at the Open House and we weren't told anything about 3.5 years of negotiations. We were told, "we put out a RFP and Walmart was the only company that picked it up." Ergo, done deal. So who is telling the truth here?
Bruce Barry May 12, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Here we go again with Hermes Yadayadaya. Doesn't any other trustee have a view? Who made him spokesman and did he once say it was a neighborhood market? I think Walmart is a mistake for our little village. We voted for Mercury so we get what we get.
Bren May 12, 2011 at 09:28 PM
This is all very disturbing. I really don't appreciate being lied to. Elsewhere on this site, we were told the Walmart will be "half the size of a super-Walmart." Well, that would mean we're stuck with a regular size Walmart, which is already whining that the space is "underparked" with ONLY 390 spaces. If I lived behind Walmart, or operated a store in the adjacent strip mall, I'd be getting ready, because this monster is going to expand. Or, if Walmart decides to move instead (which they often do), there will be a hideous box store left for years, surrounded by cracked pavement, rolling cans, broken glass, and wind-strewn litter. Ah, greed. Instead of taking the building off the market until a sensible purchaser was found, USBC takes the money and runs. Greendale is now stuck with a rapacious, amoral, town-destroying corporation that's going to place an enormous strain on city services such as police and public works. If the shops on Broad Street are struggling now (Village Pizza has closed), just wait until Walmart opens. They are renowned for targeting products sold in local stores, selling the same or similar products and deliberately undercutting prices (which they can do because they buy their crap in bulk from China). Bruce Barry, you're absolutely right. Votes have consequences, and this one has resulted in a serious, longterm problem for Greendale.
kcg May 15, 2011 at 11:36 AM
and then after Wally World uses lower prices to drive out the competition, it then raises the prices to those even higher than those held by the previous competitors. . .


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