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84South most recent of suburban mixed-use developments

Keith Kinsey, Portillo's Hot Dogs CEO (from left); Scott Yauck, president and CEO of Cobalt Partners; and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele put shovels in the ground to mark the start of construction on the 84South project on Monday in Greenfield. The mixed-use project will stand on 50 acres of redeveloped land along Interstate 894. Staff photos by Kevin Harnack

Keith Kinsey, Portillo’s Hot Dogs CEO (from left); Scott Yauck, president and CEO of Cobalt Partners; and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele put shovels in the ground to mark the start of construction on the 84South project on Monday in Greenfield. The mixed-use project will stand on 50 acres of redeveloped land along Interstate 894. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Hey, developers: There’s plenty of opportunity outside Milwaukee’s downtown.

That’s the message local officials hope will be sent by the 84South commercial and residential development, which is being built at the corner of 84th Street and Layton Avenue in Greenfield. When complete, the project will have 360 luxury apartments and 530,000 square feet of commercial space, including 315,000 square feet of shops and restaurants and 150,000 square feet of office space.

Cobalt Partners is the project’s developer.

At a groundbreaking event Monday, Scott Yauck, president and chief executive officer of Cobalt Partners, said a good deal more than development partnerships is going into 84South.

“It also shows the validity of suburban renewal,” he said. “Even though there’s things going on and the urban centers are changing … at the same time the suburbs are changing.”

Yauck cited research by the National Association of Research that showed people prefer to live in places that have space set aside not only for apartments but also shops and restaurants. As examples, he cited Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek and Whitestone Station in Menomonee Falls, another project being overseen by Cobalt Partners.

The Oak Creek development is bringing together a new city hall and library with commercial and residential space. Whitestone Station, for its part, has apartments and retail shops, including the big-box store Costco.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said 84South is expected to add 600 jobs and more than $165 million to the local tax base. The project will lead to “a more vibrant community in an area that maybe a lot of people didn’t think were going to get that.”

As further reasons why the suburbs should appeal to developers, Abele noted events such as the China Lights festival that took place this October at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in nearby Hales Corners.

County officials expected about 40,000 people to attend the first-ever Chinese-lantern festival to be held in the area. And they have not been disappointed. The event on Saturday alone drew more than 10,000 people, and well over 100,000 have attended so far.

Abele said the strong turnout should serve as a lesson to anyone who doesn’t think “there is a ton of retail drive” in the southwestern suburbs.

Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke said it would be hard exaggerate the benefits that 84South will bring.

“If people invest here, people will move here,” he said. “If people move here, they will attend our schools, they will be good people, they will be good corporate citizens.”

Yet, he pointed out, it took many years before the roughly 50-acre area elicited serious interest from developers.

“It’s taken a long time for all of us, the (city) staff, to point out to people that may not be from this part of town that this is a very, very, very good place to invest money in,” he said.

The groundbreaking Monday marked the substantial completion of the demolition and infrastructure work needed for the 84South project, as well as the start of the construction of three buildings.

Oak Creek-based C.W. Purpero Inc. is overseeing $12 million worth of work on the project. The company’s portion includes demolition, site-grading, utility-installation and internal road work. In addition, crews are installing an underground stormwater management system capable of handling 5.4 million gallons.

The project’s $35 million worth of vertical construction will add more than 180,000 square feet of commercial space. That work is expected to wrap up by mid-2017. Some of the first commercial tenants will include a Portillo’s restaurant, Total Wine, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and ULTA Beauty, among others.

More commercial and residential development will be built in the ensuing years.

About Alex Zank, alex.zank@dailyreporter.com

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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