200-Unit Luxury Apartment Complex on Track in Milwaukee

Brookfield - Developer Wimmer Brothers will acquire and construct Georgetown Square, a planned 200-unit luxury apartment project north of the Fountain Square shopping center on Blue Mound Road.

The Mandel Group Inc., the original developer on the project, has entered into an agreement to sell the 26-acre site near the Storm's Golf Center driving range to Wimmer for an undisclosed price, officials at the two companies said Tuesday.

The transaction will put the stalled project on the fast track, with construction on the first phase of 144 apartments approved by the city to begin in fall.

Wimmer Brothers will seek city approval to build a second phase with 56 apartments instead of condominiums as proposed by Mandel.

Georgetown Square will be the first residential complex to be built in the city's tax incremental financing district, created to stimulate development of new shops, restaurants, offices and housing around Brookfield Square.

"This is a fabulous location," Mark Wimmer, president of Wimmer Brothers, said.

"Our real excitement with this project is it creates a truly unique place to live, adjoining the whole Brookfield Square area which offers everything from the golf driving range across the street, the whole greenway trail system, the restaurants and the shopping, and the new grocery store," Wimmer said.

The projected tax base from the first phase should meet or exceed $13.7 million, which will help fund road work and other public improvements planned in the financing district, city Community Development Director Dan Ertl said.

Tax incremental financing districts allow municipalities to use property tax revenue from development to pay for public improvements that encourage long-range growth in the property tax base. Until the district's debt is paid off, property taxes based on the increased value of the district are diverted to pay for the improvements.

City seeks magnet effect

Ertl said he believed the construction will spur additional housing development between the mall and Executive Drive office park, a key goal of the financing district.

Developers to date have not shown interest in that city goal. But the tax base from mall-area commercial development has exceeded city projections, such as a $13 million M&I office expansion that nearly tripled city tax base projections, Ertl said.

Mandel had planned to build the project as early as 2004. But the project stalled when the housing market slowed and Mandel worked on complex projects in downtown Milwaukee.

"The market has dramatically improved for luxury rental housing development over the past 24 months," said Robert Monnat, chief operating officer for Mandel Group. "The timing of moving forward immediately in order to take advantage of this market simply fits better for Wimmer Brothers than it does for us."

Wimmer Brothers wants to complete a development agreement to include payments toward sanitary sewer work and a traffic signal at Calhoun Road and Wisconsin Ave., Ertl said.

All done by 2009

Wimmer said he hopes to have construction of the 144 units ready for occupancy in June 2008 and complete the second phase by July 2009.

The first phase includes seven four-family townhouses with exterior entrances, two 29-unit buildings and one 38-unit building with interior entrances and elevator service to underground parking. A 3,500-square-foot club house with pool and fitness and business center also will be built.

Rents will range from $1,000 to upward of $2,400, similar to the Club at Brookfield Hills development built by Wimmer Brothers overlooking the Brookfield Hills Golf Course south of I-94, west of Moorland Road.

Wimmer said the luxury rental market has been popular with empty nesters who may own properties in other parts of the country, as well as young professionals not ready to buy condos or homes.

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