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Wanted: Plans for vacant shopping center

We are trying to reach out to some developers and get some ideas from them. We are hopeful that there will be some interest in seeing something positive happen there.

Brown Deer Village Manager Russ Van Gompel

The Commerce Center Shopping Center on West Bradley Road in Brown Deer could   be acquired, along with an adjacent vacant Kohl’s Food Stores, and demolished   as village officials try to bring about a redevelopment of the long struggling   shopping center.


The Commerce Center Shopping Center, which was formerly known as Bradley Village,   is mostly vacant, and the owner is looking for village assistance to either   revitalize it or possibly tear it down, said Brown Deer Village Manager Russ   Van Gompel. The eight-acre shopping center is located at the southwest intersection   of West Bradley Road and North 43rd Street.


The Kohl’s Food Store is located directly east of the Commerce Center and has   been vacant since August when the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., the   Montvale, N.J., corporate parent of Kohl’s, closed its 23 Milwaukee-area stores.


Village officials are considering whether to acquire the properties to demolish   the two buildings to make way for a possible residential development.


“We are trying to be proactive and determine what is the best use of those   properties,” Van Gompel said. “We are trying to reach out to some   developers and get some ideas from them. We are hopeful that there will be some   interest in seeing something positive happen there.”


Village officials said potential redevelopment of the site could include owner-   and rental-occupied housing units, small retail and specialty shops and professional   office space. Van Gompel said he had already talked to a couple of Milwaukee   area developers and hoped to receive proposals over the next several weeks.   He said there were no plans to issue a request for proposals.


Hired help


The Brown Deer Community Development Authority recently hired prominent Milwaukee   real estate attorney Alan Marcuvitz, along with an appraiser and relocation   specialist firm, to help it through the possible condemnation, relocation and   redevelopment process. Several tenants, including a Tri-City National Bank branch,   would have to be relocated, Van Gompel said.


Marcuvitz said Brown Deer is taking a similar approach to what other communities   in southeastern Wisconsin, such as Glendale, Brookfield and West Allis, have   done in recent years in redeveloping existing properties that are not being   used to their full potential.


“They are trying to get a handle on what they can do and how they can   do it,” he said. “This has become the wave of tomorrow for communities   in our area. They are seeing situations and are trying to fix them to make their   communities better and stronger.”


Van Gompel said the properties are included in a tax incremental financing,   or TIF, district in an area from North 55th Street to North Teutonia Avenue   along West Bradley Road and south along Teutonia to the village limits. The   TIF district was established in 1995 in an effort to revitalize the shopping   center.


Renewed interest?


Marc Vaccaro, a partner in the Great Lakes Cos., a Madison development firm,   purchased the shopping center for $350,000 at a Milwaukee County sheriff’s auction in 1994. Vaccaro sought village assistance with financing to help upgrade the center and received $450,000 through the TIF district to help fund a $1 million facelift to the center.


Vaccaro could not be reached for comment.


In 2000, Van Gompel said Vaccaro went back to village officials, asking for   additional funds to help convert a portion of the retail strip into office space.   In December 2002, Vaccaro put the center up for sale.


In recent months, Van Gompel said Vaccaro asked if the village was interested   in buying it, tearing down the middle portion and selling it back to his company.


Vaccaro indicated his company would then be interested in building a senior   apartment complex on the site, similar to Algonquin and Bradley Manor Senior   Apartments, which the firm built to the west of the Commerce Center.


“We want to look at all of our options to see what is in the best interests   of the village,” Van Gompel said.

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