Developer adds to its shopping cart at Waukesha's Fox River center

Published on: 5/27/2014

A new crop of retailers could join such established storefronts as Hobby Lobby, Pick 'n Save, Target and TJ Maxx at the 5-year-old Shoppes at Fox River development on Waukesha's southern end.

Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust, the Farmington Hills, Mich.-based owner of the shopping center at 1180 W. Sunset Drive, has filed an application with the city to acquire nearly 10 acres of land directly east of the existing site.

The vacant land eyed for Ramco's expansion is zoned for industrial use, meaning city officials will need to approve a change in designation to commercial for plans to proceed.

City discussions

The Waukesha Plan Commission was scheduled to have a preliminary discussion of Ramco's rezoning request at a meeting Wednesday, May 28. Steve Crandell, community development director, was expected to present the company's plans to commissioners.

If commissioners do approve Ramco's comprehensive plan amendment request and rezoning petition, a series of additional maneuvers will still have to be taken before the expansion plans are cemented.

Commissioners likely would hash over Ramco's specific building plans at the appointed body's following meeting Wednesday, June 11, and the common council ultimately would need to sign off on the plans. If the normal sequence is followed, the council could host a public hearing July 1 and subsequently take action at the same meeting.

Still Shoppe-ing

According to the application materials filed with the city, Ramco's plans entail constructing six new buildings, totaling 186,000 square feet, along Chapman Drive. The existing development has nearly 370,000 square feet of retail space, and most of it is leased.

Ramco's expansion plans include a five-tenant building, at 90,000 square feet, and a separate 65,000-square-foot freestanding building that likely would accommodate one tenant. Rounding out the new project would be four small buildings, encompassing a total of 31,000 square feet.

The Shoppes at Fox River currently has about 25 retailers within the development, including eateries Buffalo Wild Wings, Chili's and Noodles and Company. Rounding out the tenant mix are such businesses as Batteries Plus, Klinke Cleaners, Mattress Firm, Petco and Rue 21.

The first phase of the development was completed in 2010, and a second phase was added in 2012.

Dawn Hendershot, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications with Ramco, said "retailers are interested" in the Shoppes at Fox River expansion. She declined to name any specific firms because of the tentative nature of the development plans.

Hendershot said there are a number of attractive attributes within the development, spurring Ramco's desire to add a third phase to the development.

Favorable demographics

According to the company's marketing documents, Shoppes at Fox River is situated within an area that is expected to continue growing. Population estimates from 2012 reveal 61,287 people live within a three-mile radius of the site, and 268,724 people within a 10-mile radius.

Population estimates within the immediate area are expected to move up exponentially. In 2017, Ramco anticipates 62,460 living within three miles, and 271,543 people within a 10-mile radius.

Ramco also has touted household incomes within the immediate area, which range from $66,928 within 3 miles and $87,190 within 10 miles.