With its first large-scale residential project nearly complete, the developer of The Enclave has its sights set on developing two other nearby properties just north of State Street -- the long-idled former Western Metal foundry site and Bartolotta Restaurant Group’s corporate headquarters, at 6005 W. Martin Drive.
The Waukesha-based HSI Properties has accepted offers-to-purchase for both sites, although developing the Bartolotta site adjacent to the $25 million Enclave project would be the first to move forward, said HSI principal Brett Haney.
HSI expects to submit plans for the 40-unit The Annex at Enclave within two months, Haney said. If the plans win city approval, construction could begin as early as this fall.
The existing building at 6005 West Martin would be demolished to make room for new construction of a three- and four-story complex of 40 one-bedroom apartments, with rents starting at $900 a month, Haney said. The Annex will have the same architectural features of the Enclave, Haney said, with three different floor plans for the 40 one-bedroom units. The 152-unit Enclave features a mix of one- to three-bedroom apartments, with rents from $900 to $2,200.
“We have proven that there is a strong demand in the city of Wauwatosa for high-end, quality apartments,” Haney said, noting that all but four of the 76 units in the first phase of the Enclave project are leased and occupied, and 33 of the 76 units in the second building, which opens in August, are leased.
Expansion to displace two Tosa businesses
The Enclave expansion, however, will displace two Tosa-based businesses, Tosa coffee maker Valentine Coffee Roasters, along with Bartolotta Restaurant Group. Valentine's operates in the back of the Bartolotta corporate headquarters building, but now is in search of new space, said owner Robb Kashevarof.
“We love Tosa and we want to remain in Tosa. That’s our goal,” Kashevarof said. "We would love for the city of Wauwatosa to embrace us and find us a home."
Whether it will be possible to secure a Tosa site that suits the business before Valentine’s must move to allow for demolition remains to be seen, he said.
“The bulldozers might be coming in September,” Kashevarof said, which means “we don’t have the luxury of waiting to find the perfect spot.”
Kashevarof said the coffee roasting setup in the Bartolotta building always was temporary, as both the coffee roaster and the Milwaukee area’s most prolific restaurateur were outgrowing the space.
“They’re going. We’re going. … It was inevitable,“ Kashevarof said. “It’s just got a timeline now.”
Bartolotta Restaurant Group representatives could not be reached for comment.
New life for dormant site?
HSI also has an accepted offer-to-purchase on a 10-acre site just west of the Enclave and north of State Street, currently owned by Chicago-area developer David Israel, Haney said. That site was cleared several years ago to make way for a proposed 224-unit condominium project. That project, proposed in 2005, fell through when the economy and the condo market tanked, but not before Israel secured a $1.9 million tax incremental financing (TIF) agreement with the city for site development. The city estimates that Israel received about $600,000 in TIF funds so far, for demolition costs to clear the Western Metal property.
Israel, in 2009, came back with revised development plans for the site, for subsidized senior housing, a proposal that received a lukewarm reception from the city. Although Israel had said he would be before the city again in 2011 with a new proposal, he instead began seeking a buyer for his property.
HSI’s interest in the site springs from the firm's success with its Enclave project and the potential to continue to revitalize the industrial corridor just east of the city’s downtown village area, Haney said. The property’s proximity to the village, he said, adds to the development appeal.
“Downtown Wauwatosa is such a cool place to be, with the outside cafes and restaurants,” Haney said. “People just love it.”
HSI is in its initial planning stages for development on the Western Metal site, which Haney described as “a big piece of property with a lot of complications” as well as a lot of potential.
“We’re working on that development right now,” Haney said. “I imagine it will be some mix of different residential and possibly a little bit of retail. It’s too early to say.”
Haney said HSI already has talked with the city about taking on the Israel site, and will continue to work with the city and neighbors in crafting a development for the 10-acre site. If HSI's plans get the support needed to proceed with buying and developing the site, Haney said, it would be the firm’s first forray into retail development.
Reef protection remains a priority
The Western Metal site sits just below the Schoonmaker Reef, a fossilized coral reef first discovered nearly 170 years ago that dates back 425 million years, to the Silurian geologic period, when the area was a thriving coral reef in 100-foot deep tropical waters. If HSI buys and develops the site, Haney said, the development would honor a commitment made by Israel to create a buffer between any development and the reef.
The TIF agreement the city has with Israel includes $185,000 designated to cover the costs of sidewalks, security fences and security lighting along the edge of the development and a 2.44-acre site recently donated to the city to help protect the reef. Although the TIF agreement cannot be assigned or transferred to a new owner, city attorney Alan Kesner said, a similar TIF agreement could be crafted with a new owner.
“It was a good agreement for the city and the developer, so it would be a good agreement to do again,“ Kesner said. “I wouldn’t have a problem with recommending that the same (TIF agreement) be done” for HSI Properties.
State Street corridor ripe for redevelopment
The eastern edge of the State Street industrial corridor already has proven fertile ground for revitalization through the Enclave and other residential projects, such as The Reserve, Haney said. The city so far is receptive to its plans for the Annex as well as the prospect of HSI taking on the Israel site, he said.
HSI has “done an excellent job on following through and building the quality that they committed to,” said Mayor Kathy Ehley. “If they can do something to turn the other (Israel) property around from vacant, empty dirt, it would be fabulous.”
“It would be wonderful to see something of quality moving forward in that area,“ Ehley said, adding that it is likely HSI plans would complement the vision the city has for the village area as well as the reef.
HSI “understands the value of having some type of public walkway through there,” Ehley said. “It is like all the stars need to be aligned -- and it’s a lot of stars -- and they seem to be doing that right now.”