Makeover on schedule for Brookfield's 124th Street Commerce District

Aug. 26, 2014

Development remains on schedule and the City of Brookfield is hopeful that the 124th Street Commerce District will soon see the final touches brushed up on its $4 million makeover.

"Everything's on schedule," City of Brookfield Economic Development Coordinator Tim Casey said. "They're looking at being done with the road work by the end of September and then being done with the entire project by Nov. 1."

The 124th Street Commerce District is a mixed-use area between Burleigh Road and Feerick Street and from 124th Street to 128th Street.

The transformation of the area includes new streets, a new storm sewer system, and a wealth of redevelopment.

"It's pretty much built out. What you're seeing now is a lot of redevelopment. People are acquiring buildings and, in many instances, completely remodeling them and re-doing the building's façade," Casey said. "That's really encouraging to see."

Among the new faces in the district are a diverse set of businesses.

Wisconsin Firearms Training now occupies the former B&G golf store at 12730 W. Burleigh Street. The investors are doing a complete overhaul of the building into a five-star indoor shooting range and training center. The facility is projected to open this fall.

"We wanted to be located in a high traffic retail area that would be close to the interstate. The price of the property and existing zoning and location all contributed to this being a very desirable place for us," Wisconsin Firearms Training founder and chief financial officer Jeff Lightfoot said. "City officials were all very supportive of our business."

Lightfoot is pleased with the infrastructural improvements being made in the district as well.

"It's important for those improvements to be made for the overall appearance of the area," Lightfoot said.

Signs by Tomorrow is another new tenant in the 124th Street Commerce District. The company has purchased property at 3415 N. 127th Street and is moving its operations from its current home in West Allis to occupy a portion of the building. The company provides a full range of exterior, interior, directional, and event signs, among other offerings. The move is also set to take place this fall.

Other newcomers include 360 Direct, Stark Asphalt/Northwest Asphalt, Kubichek Property Leasing, and Laacke and Joys Design and Manufacturing, which recently moved 48 employees to the former VerHalen/Pella Window building at 3205 N. 124th Street.

Casey notes that while much of the new redevelopment and investment in the district was already in the works prior to this year's construction projects, in several instances the city's plans played a part in the businesses making their respective decisions.

"This area has really held its own. It's a very convenient area with access to the freeways and main roads. Like every area, it went through a drop in property values and an increase in vacancies during the course of the recession, but now it's coming out of that," Casey said.

City of Brookfield Engineer Jeff Chase says that the project has not seen any unforeseen complications and currently expects the project to come in close to its original budget.

"It's too early to say, but it looks good so far," Chase said. "We're not aware of anything that would dramatically impact the budget."

The city footed the majority of the bill in the recent redevelopment of infrastructure in the area; however, it did ask property owners to contribute to the cause to the tune of a total of $1 million. Individual businesses on the high end of the spectrum are contributing around $40,000 to the cause and have 10 years to pay.

Casey noted that while Brookfield may be better known for its Bluemound Road corridor, the 124th Street Commerce District has its own place among important areas in the municipality.

"The combined property value of the 124th Street corridor plus some properties north of Capitol Drive is actually greater than Brookfield Square," Casey said. "It's very encouraging that these businesses and property owners were willing to pay a portion of (the costs)."

Casey feels that the resurgence of the 124th Street Commerce District is indicative of the economy emerging from the recession.

"It's a real sign that investment is coming back," Casey said. "This last recession was a very deep recession. This is further indication that we're getting past that."

The 124th Street Commerce District consists of approximately 1.4 million square feet of industrial space between 58 buildings; 200,000 square feet of office space between 13 buildings; and 100,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space across seven buildings. The area is home to over one-fourth of the city's industrial development.

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