Real estate consultant says retail would not be viable at Highway 60 property
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Real estate consultant says retail would not be viable at Highway 60 property

Dec 28, 2023

CEDARBURG — It would be difficult to have successful retail businesses located on the property on the southeast corner of Highway 60 and Sheboygan Road, said a real estate expert to the Cedarburg Plan Commission Monday. The commission has discussed this location during multiple meetings after the Mandel Group came forward to propose building luxury apartments over the entire 17-acre parcel. But plan commissioners questioned whether high-density apartment buildings were an appropriate use of the property and wondered if commercial development would be better.

The commission reached out to Blair Williams, president of Wired Properties, a commercial real estate consulting firm who has 25 years of real estate and business experience, to give guidance on the types of uses that would best survive at the property.

Williams said retail would not be feasible at this location at this moment, using an example of building a 12,000-square-foot building, adding that it would be difficult to find a tenant who could afford to pay the rent per square feet for a new building.

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"It would take a long time to fill that building and you would need to fill that building before you secure financing," he said.

Williams also said it would be like a "retail island in a residential and rural sea."

"My opinion: develop the whole site as multi-family," he said. "Activate the corner with a clubhouse and a pool and get the residents there to the corner to activate that intersection."

Williams mentioned the city could wait until the market to better regulate itself and for construction, interest and cap rates go down, but that could take years.

Williams suggested a bank could be successful in that area. A restaurant that serves dinner could possibly work there too, but that would mean a lot of empty parking spaces during the day, Williams said.

In February, the Mandel Group added a space for commercial use along with apartments totaling at 192 units, but Williams said he didn't think their plan had enough beds, therefore it wouldn't develop enough disposable income to support the retail businesses there.

When asked how a coffee shop or a brewery would do at the location, Williams said he didn't think it would be successful, adding, "I don't think you should dilute the downtown by doing new retail 1.6 miles away," since there are already coffee shops and breweries in downtown Cedarburg.

Plan commissioner Pat Thome said she favored the idea of developing high-density townhomes rather than high-density apartments that the Mandel Group is proposing.

"I can see townhomes as being a more desirable addition right now," she said, given that the city is anticipating apartments in various locations in the city in the future.

Plan Commissioner Sig Strautmanis said the presentation was very formative and that this will have to be a larger long term policy discussion they need to continue to have.

Plan Commissioner Tom Wiza said he thought they should incorporate some other uses along Highway 60, which Williams said Five Corners is probably a better retail location than this site.