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Cudahy weighs two properties for big-box developer

By Sean Ryan

Cudahy can support only one big-box retail store, leaving planners debating whether such a project should be built on the city’s Iceport property or on land near the edge of town.

Cudahy is discussing the potential development of a big-box department store with Continental Properties Co. Inc., Menomonee Falls, said Lara Fritts, Cudahy’s economic development director. She said the city is in negotiations and cannot disclose the potential retailer’s name.

The city has two potential sites — the 31-acre Iceport property near downtown and a contaminated site on the northern edge of Cudahy that Cobalt Partners LLC, Milwaukee, plans to redevelop. But city studies of the area’s retail market have shown Cudahy lacks enough shoppers to support more than one big-box retailer.

Fritts and the majority of Cudahy’s Community Development Authority support encouraging Continental to consider the Cobalt site so the Iceport property can be saved for a more valuable development.

“When you lay it all out,” Fritts said, “if you put a big-box retailer on the (Iceport) site, you really lose the ability to maximize the value of the site.”

Steve Wagner, senior vice president of Continental, would not comment for this story.

Scott Yauck, partner in Cobalt Partners, said he plans to develop a big-box retail store on his Cudahy property. He said he has not had contact with Continental.

But two members of the Community Development Authority argue a big box at the Cobalt site, which is farther from downtown Cudahy than the Iceport property, would siphon shoppers from the city center. Mike Clark, vice chairman of the CDA, said Cudahy would hurt itself if it pushes a big retail development to the Cobalt site near General Mitchell International Airport.

“At least with the Iceport property,” he said, “you are dragging them at least a little bit into Cudahy.”

Alderman Joseph Mikolajczak said he shares Clark’s concern about pushing people from the downtown.

Mikolajczak said his constituents prefer the Iceport property because it is within walking distance of city neighborhoods.

“It’s interesting now that the conversation has switched to: Where do we want to put it; not whether we can have it,” he said.

Fritts said that, based on the assessed values big-box stores have generated in other communities, project such as Continental’s would have roughly $18 million in property value. But the city is negotiating to bring a 300,000-square-foot industrial plant to the Iceport property, she said, that would generate $25 million in new value.

She said ongoing negotiations also prevent the city from disclosing the name of the potential industrial company.

Continental in 2007 proposed building a Walmart on the Iceport property, but the Cudahy Plan Commission rejected the project after residents opposed having a Walmart in town, Clark said.

Fritts said next week she will negotiate with Cobalt and brokers for potential big-box tenants at the annual meeting of the International Council of Shopping Centers. She said Cudahy representatives will promote the Cobalt site.

One comment

  1. I do hope they can save the iceport site for real development.

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