Brook­field apart­ments want walk­ers

De­vel­op­ers aim for walk­a­ble area at The Cor­ners

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - BUSINESS - TOM DAYKIN

TOWN OF BROOK­FIELD - The eight or so lanes of cars and trucks roar­ing along W. Blue Mound Road, just east of four-lane N. Barker Road, don’t ex­actly paint a pic­ture of an ur­ban, walk­a­ble neigh­bor­hood.

But that’s ex­actly what two new apart­ment de­vel­op­ments are try­ing to es­tab­lish in an area that is more Driver’s Run than Walker’s Point.

The projects, two apart­ment build­ings to­tal­ing 244 units at The Cor­ners mixed-use de­vel­op­ment and the 138-unit Poplar Creek Club apart­ments, amount to a big change for the com­mu­nity — while cre­at­ing a dif­fer­ent hous­ing choice for both younger res­i­dents and empty nesters in Waukesha County.

Other sub­urbs through­out the United States are tak­ing sim­i­lar steps to re­de­velop older prop­er­ties into pedes­trian-friendly des­ti­na­tions, even as more peo­ple in their 20s and 30s grav­i­tate to­ward liv­ing and work­ing in down­town ar­eas.

“There is a large per­cent­age of the grow­ing mil­len­nial pop­u­la­tion that is liv­ing and work­ing in the sub­urbs,” said Robert Mon­nat, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Man­del Group Inc., which op­er­ates apart­ments at The Cor­ners.

“They’re not all liv­ing down­town,” Mon­nat said.

At Poplar Creek Club, de­vel­oper Wim­mer Bros. also ex­pects younger pro­fes­sion­als to ac­count for a ma­jor part of its mar­ket, said Mark Wim­mer, pres­i­dent.

And walk­a­bil­ity is a big part of the mar­ket­ing ap­peal for both projects.

At The Cor­ners, Man­del man­ages the 152-unit Gar­ri­son Court, which opened Sept. 1, and Dempsey Place, with 92 units, which opened in July.

Both build­ings fea­ture apart­ments on four floors above stores, restau­rants and other street-level re­tail space.

The Cor­ners, a mixed-use de­vel­op­ment an­chored by a Von Maur depart­ment store, be­gan open­ing stores in April on 19 acres be­tween W. Blue Mound Road and I-94, east of N. Barker Road.

The apart­ments have monthly rents rang­ing from $1,195 to $2,670. About half the units are stu­dios or have one bed­room, with the larger units fea­tur­ing two bed­rooms.

In most sub­ur­ban de­vel­op­ments, smaller apart­ments make up around 25% of the units, Mon­nat said.

The 50-50 ra­tio at Gar­ri­son Court and Dempsey Place “is more of an ur­ban mix,” partly aimed at younger renters, he said.

Res­i­dents can walk to stores, in­clud­ing a Sendik’s Food Mar­ket, as well as restau­rants such as Cafe Hol­lan­der and BelAir Cantina, with­out leav­ing The Cor­ners. That lineup might in­clude a pro­posed movie the­ater by spring 2019.

The Cor­ners also fea­tures a pub­lic square, with events such as con­certs and Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin foot­ball games on an out­door big screen TV.

Both apart­ment build­ings have fit­ness cen­ters, club rooms and spa­ces within The Cor­ners’ un­der­ground parking struc­ture set aside for res­i­dents. Gar­ri­son Court also pro­vides a the­ater room and an out­door court­yard for res­i­dents of both build­ings.

There’s even an out­door dog walk­ing area on the east­ern edge of The Cor­ners, near Poplar Creek.

That ur­ban de­sign was a ma­jor rea­son why Les­ley Poberezny moved to Gar­ri­son Court from Ge­orge­town Square apart­ments, in the city of Brook­field.

“I thought this was the down­town at­mos­phere in a sub­ur­ban life,” said Poberezny, 35, who op­er­ates her own mar­ket­ing con­sult­ing firm. “You re­ally don’t have to move

your car. You can just walk to ev­ery­thing.”

That wasn’t the case at Ge­orge­town Square, she said.

“That was more the sub­di­vi­sion type feel,” Poberezny said.

“Yes, it was an apart­ment. But you felt you were away from the main street,” she said. “You didn’t see or hear any­thing . ... It was too quiet.”

Ge­orge­town Square, 16505 Wis­con­sin Ave., is op­er­ated by Wim­mer Bros., the firm de­vel­op­ing Poplar Creek Club. Those apart­ments will be just north of The Cor­ners, at 20200 Poplar Creek Park­way.

Con­struc­tion started this spring. Half of the four-story apart­ment build­ing will be done by fall 2018 and the other half com­pleted by spring 2019, Mark Wim­mer said.

Poplar Creek Club will in­clude a sep­a­rate re­tail build­ing at the north­east cor­ner of W. Blue Mound Road and Poplar Creek Park­way. The apart­ments will in­clude un­der­ground parking and a pri­vate court­yard.

The one- and two-bed­room units will have monthly rents of around $1,200 to $2,400.

Wim­mer Bros., like Man­del Group, ex­pects a mix of both younger pro­fes­sion­als and older renters, in­clud­ing empty nesters from the Brook­field area.

The firm bought the 7.5-acre de­vel­op­ment site in part be­cause of its close­ness to I-94 and the “po­ten­tial to cre­ate a neigh­bor­hood am­biance,” Wim­mer said.

That in­cludes walk­a­bil­ity, he said, with the po­ten­tial to link to nearby busi­nesses on the north side of W. Blue Mound Road.

That amounts to a change in at­ti­tude for the firm, which years ago

fought side­walk con­nec­tions to its apart­ments but now gen­er­ally wel­comes them, Wim­mer said.

“Peo­ple want more ex­pe­ri­en­tial liv­ing,” he said.

The Town of Brook­field re­de­vel­op­ment projects are sim­i­lar to ones be­ing done in other U.S. sub­urbs.

The tar­gets are of­ten ob­so­lete strip malls and big box stores, such as the for­mer Me­nards home im­prove­ment store, Mar­cus Cin­ema and small strip cen­ter that were de­mol­ished to make way for The Cor­ners.

In Wayzata, Minn., a Minneapolis sub­urb, a closed shop­ping mall was re­placed by more than 300 se­nior hous­ing units, a su­per­mar­ket and other stores, a ho­tel and other projects, ac­cord­ing to StarTri­ The de­vel­oper, non­profit Pres­by­te­rian Homes & Ser­vices, has done Wis­con­sin projects, in­clud­ing re­cent se­nior apart­ment build­ings in Menomonee Falls and Ger­man­town.

And the Mil­wau­kee area is see­ing other new sub­ur­ban de­vel­op­ments that mix hous­ing and com­mer­cial space with a de­sign that en­cour­ages walk­ing.

They in­clude White­stone Station, in Menomonee Falls; the May­fair Col­lec­tion, in Wauwatosa; Drexel Town Square, in Oak Creek; and 84 South, in Green­field.

The big­gest chal­lenge to such projects is over­com­ing the depen­dence that sub­urbs have on cars. That’s ac­cord­ing to Ellen Dun­ham-Jones and June Wil­liamson, ar­chi­tec­ture pro­fes­sors who co-wrote the 2008 book “Retrofitting Subur­bia: Ur­ban De­sign So­lu­tions for Re­design­ing Sub­urbs.”

Re­duc­ing car depen­dence is a “chal­lenge the sub­urbs were never built for,” Dun­ham-Jones said at a 2015 con­fer­ence spon­sored by the Ur­ban Land In­sti­tute.

Wim­mer ac­knowl­edged W. Blue Mound Road isn’t com­pa­ra­ble to

the much nar­rower streets found in more walk­a­ble neigh­bor­hoods such as down­town Mil­wau­kee.

“It’s not a Third Ward walk­a­bil­ity,” he said. “But it is a new walk­a­bil­ity that hasn’t ex­isted in the (Brook­field) mar­ket be­fore.”

Mon­nat, of Man­del Group, said The Cor­ners of­fers around four to five blocks of walk­ing “that can hap­pen just on the prop­erty.” And there are side­walks along W. Blue Mound and N. Barker roads, he said.

But Mon­nat ac­knowl­edged the neigh­bor­hood will never be con­fused with, say, Walker’s Point.

Ac­cord­ing to WalkS­, The Cor­ners has a walk­ing score of 29, which puts in the “car de­pen­dent” cat­e­gory.

The service uses a scale from 0 to 100 based on walk­ing routes to des­ti­na­tions such as gro­cery stores, schools, parks, restau­rants and re­tail.

By con­trast, Artistry, a new Walker’s Point de­vel­op­ment that in­cludes apart­ments and com­mer­cial space, has a walk­ing score of 85, rated as “very walk­a­ble.”

In­deed, while there is a cross­walk over W. Blue Mound Road be­tween The Cor­ners and Poplar Creek Club, it might ap­pear daunt­ing to walk through so many lanes of traf­fic.

Poberezny, while liv­ing at Ge­orge­town Square for five years, was about a half-mile from The Fresh Mar­ket gro­cery store, near Brook­field Square Mall. That was a walk she never took.

“Be­cause I felt Blue Mound Road was so crazy busy, I didn’t want to risk my life cross­ing it,” Poberezny said.

“I know there’s side­walks on Blue Mound Road,” she said. “But I never see peo­ple walk­ing on them.”


Dempsey Place apart­ments is one of two new apart­ment build­ings at The Cor­ners mixed-use de­vel­op­ment in the Town of Brook­field.


A cross­walk over sev­eral lanes of traf­fic on W. Blue Mound Road con­nects The Cor­ners with the fu­ture Poplar Creek Club apart­ments. See more photos and a video at

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