WAUKESHA – At a place where the tracks once brought countless travelers, an emerging apartment complex will attract people planning to stay a while.
Mandel Group’s 116 BridgeWalk apartments, which debuted in January along St. Paul Avenue west of Madison Street, add to a landscape of high-density housing developments in downtown Waukesha at a time when apartment plans are emerging on the outer edges of the city, especially near the recently completed West Waukesha Bypass.
There’s no doubt that Waukesha has been inundated with apartment offers, and that’s no accident. Since 2018, when a housing survey found a shortage of apartment options across all categories, including high-end units, the city has put many plans in place.
BridgeWalk is the first to follow through on redevelopment areas in the city’s oldest commercial district in mid-Waukesha, and addresses something that’s been on the city’s wish list since the turn of the century.
A long sought-after redevelopment
In 2020, Mandel Group, which had similar plans for Elm Grove and Oconomowoc, began orchestrating a plan for a four-story complex on St. Paul Avenue in a redevelopment area adjacent to a municipal parking lot.
But there was plenty of history going back further – in fact, to Waukesha’s beginnings as a railroad town in the mid-19th century and the springs era in the late 19th century.
The site where Mandel’s apartments will be located included a passenger depot and tracks operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad, more commonly known as Milwaukee Road.
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However, the weather has not been good for the Milwaukee route or passenger rail traffic through Waukesha. This Milwaukee Road segment of what is now Highway F through Waukesha on St. Paul Avenue was eventually abandoned.
The land sat vacant for decades, long after the railroad tracks and depot were removed. The city has used part of the land for a municipal lot and, more recently, for its farmers’ market.
Massive overhaul of the neighborhood began early this century with the razing of several old and dilapidated commercial buildings to the west near Wisconsin Avenue and the subsequent construction of Mill Reserve Condominiums, a series of two-story units built by Ogden Construction Group.
The redevelopment plan was initially left to Mill Reserve LLC, which agreed to build additional units east of the existing condos. That never happened, leading to a legal battle in 2015 in which the city claimed the condo developer reneged on its contract to follow through on plans dating back to 2007.
In 2016, Ogden proposed another development, a 120-unit apartment complex, but that also failed to materialize.
Mill Reserve LLC eventually sold the land, allowing Mandel to move forward with a more ambitious plan, which revolved around a tax-funded fundraising initiative known as the Capital Increase Funding. ‘tax.
The $30 million apartment complex is expected to generate millions of dollars in new taxes, enough to repay $5.5 million in TIF money extended to Mandel by the city to start the project. The TIF uses new property taxes generated by site improvements to pay for certain costs.
Specifically, Mandel and the city agreed to an upfront payment of $2 million. The special tax district will remain open until 2038 unless the remaining $3.5 million is offset by new property taxes before then.
Bridgewalk apartments will be high-end, developer says
That plan calls for 116 units — with studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom options — and currently priced between $1,050 and $2,230.
The long complex will essentially be a building with apartments on three or four floors in different locations, all above an underground parking level.
Apartments will include what Mandel describes as “high-quality interior finishes”: stainless steel appliances, designer cabinets with soft-closing doors and drawers, quartz countertops, faux wood vinyl plank flooring and built-in washers and dryers.
But it’s the amenities that Mandel markets more than the layout of the apartments.
“BridgeWalk amenities will include a club room with adjoining covered outdoor space, a fitness center, an extensive secure bike storage room, a bike repair room, a dog park, a car wash and a parking lot. spectacular featuring a green roof, an indoor area with grilling stations, and a fire pit,” said Ian Thompson, Mandel’s chief marketing officer, in a January announcement marking the grand opening.
Thompson said the resort will also be attractive because of its location.
“BridgeWalk’s name comes from the development’s immediate connectivity to the Fox River Trail and downtown Waukesha via the pedestrian bridge over the Fox River,” he said. “Mandel Group will bring a modern, comfortable aesthetic to downtown Waukesha and BridgeWalk will be prominent on the Fox River.”
In a 2020 interview, Mandel Group COO Phillip Aiello said BridgeWalk’s positioning close to downtown Waukesha was no accident. This was part of similar plans in Oconomowoc and Elm Grove.
“Each of these developments has a slightly different appeal, but all have in common that they are located in walkable communities,” Aiello said.
The complex is expected to be completed in early 2023, according to Mandel Group.
Several other apartment projects are underway in Waukesha
BridgeWalk isn’t alone, whether in downtown Waukesha or the city as a whole, with new apartment offerings. Seven other apartment projects totaling over 600 units are in various stages of development or approval, all since 2019.
The largest, at 192 units, involves 2.5 acres off Barstow Street and St. Paul Avenue just east of Waukesha State Bank, which had previously been considered for another luxury apartment plan, which will collapsed due to lack of investors at the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020.
In 2021, General Capital Group and Joseph Property Development picked up where Campbell Capital Group left off, but with a less amenity-filled proposition. The plan envisions three separate buildings of up to five stories, with retail space at the base of one of the buildings.
He would use a TIF district originally set up for Campbell. Under the terms of the revised TIF, developers would receive an upfront payment of $2.8 million and a reimbursement of up to $4.7 million paid by new tax revenue between 2024 and 2039.
Work could begin as early as this spring.
The city is also considering plans for City View Apartments, in part using land that was formerly part of the Waukesha City Hall campus prior to the construction of the new municipal building. It would consist of 77 units.
But it’s small compared to the planes emerging on the outer edges of the city to the north, west and south.
To the south, the 174 luxury Village at Fox River apartments on the southeast corner of Highway 59 and Saylesville Road are already under construction. This is a mixed-use development which is also expected to include a convenience store/gas station and a future retail/office.
In that same neighborhood, Cardinal Capital has plans for a 72-unit complex off River Road, though those plans have yet to be approved.
The two developments coincided with the 2019 completion of the West Waukesha Bypass, a route that integrates Les Paul Parkway into a north-south section of Merrill Hills Road/Meadowbrook Road for faster access to westbound Interstate lanes. 94.
To the west, in what was once the former Fox Run Mall near St. Paul Avenue and Sunset Drive, The Den at Fox Run, a 72-unit plan, is nearing completion. The site also includes the brand new Ascension Wisconsin Hospital, which opened in late 2021, and a new Landmark Credit Union branch. Other commercial uses are planned.
To the north, a small eight-unit apartment project is under construction on Silvernail Road. The Silvernail TownHomes border the new Avid Hotel and the recent Good Harvest Market, which together have filled in a part of town that included the redevelopment of a former German restaurant, The Gasthaus, into a new shopping mall.
In 2020, city officials pointed to these plans, which at the time also included two apartment complexes near the intersection of White Rock Avenue and Moreland Boulevard, as a sign that developers were responding to city needs. .
“When evaluating new housing projects, we carefully review the city’s recently completed Housing Study to ensure they fill gaps in our housing supply,” said Jennifer Andrews, Director of Development community of Waukesha, in a 2020 interview. “The housing study showed a significant existing shortage of housing. The study identified a need for several different types of housing at varying prices. All residential projects meet a need identified in the study.”
Along the same lines, the city is considering plans for a seniors’ apartment complex on Delafield Street, across from City Hall. More than 100 units could be built under these plans, which are not yet final.