Mequon town center project could bring apartments, hotel, stores to city land

By Sean Ryan  – Reporter, Milwaukee Business Journal 

Mar 3, 2016, 11:04am CST Updated Mar 3, 2016, 11:44am 

Mequon developer Cindy Shaffer could start moving dirt in August for the first buildings in a planned $30 million project on Mequon Road with apartments, stores, restaurants and a boutique hotel.

Shaffer pitched the project in response to Mequon’s attempt to sell 13.4 acres of city land north of Mequon Road, between Buntrock Avenue and a set of railroad tracks. That property is west of the Mequon Town Center project that Shaffer co-developed.

The latest project, dubbed Heritage Commons, follows a similar design concept and mixes housing, retail buildings and public spaces. It would have 70 apartments in two multi-story buildings with underground parking, and eight to 12 townhouses, according to a press release from Shaffer Development.

The project could be complete by the end of 2018, according to plans shown to the Mequon Common Council on Tuesday. Mequon officials in November approved negotiations with Shaffer Development over the land sale, and approved a contract for the sale last month.

“We wanted to get some additional feedback and direction from the council as we move forward on this project” said Kim Tollefson, Mequon director of community development. “The development of this site could increase our tax base $4 (million) to $6 million over the next 10 years.”

There are several existing buildings on the project site. Mequon’s fire and police stations will be unaffected. The project would preserve three of the brick buildings on the site and convert them into restaurants and retail spaces. Others would be demolished.

A new retail building and boutique hotel are also planned. Those commercial buildings are the second phase of the development, and wouldn’t’ start until spring 2017, after the city relocates its operations. Interest in the retail space is high and the developer is in discussion with potential tenants, according to Shaffer Development.

"A preliminary assessment for a hotel at this location showed a potential benefit to the area,” Shaffer said, adding housing could instead be built if there is not enough demand to support a hotel.

The first phase includes new housing on the northern section of the site, including townhomes. Pending approvals, Shaffer Development could begin moving dirt for the townhomes in August and complete them at the end of 2017.