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.
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.