The Elm Grove Park & Shop - a shopping center in the heart of downtown on Watertown Plank Road - has been sold to Korkos Investments, owned and operated by village residents Tom and Christina Korkos.
The Park & Shop, home to the post office, Penelope's Restaurant and a host of other businesses, and is considered by some as a local landmark and gathering place, serving as the end point for the Memorial Day parade and the staging area for the Elm Grove Business Association's Holiday Open House.
"Everything about the building - it's really the heart, the hub of Elm Grove," Christina Korkos, manager of the day-to-day operations of the business, said. "What's the future of the Park & Shop? Really more of the same."
Small changes eyed
Because the building has no vacancies, the husband-and-wife team can focus on updating and refreshing the more than 50-year-old building, she said.
Korkos declined to name any specific changes the company has in mind for the center, saying that any changes will be researched before implemented.
"(Any changes have) got to embody that charm - that small-town, very traditional charming feel," she said. "We would never come in here and put something radically contemporary."
Korkos did say that there are some improvements to the office space in the upper level of the building she'd like to address first, and then she'd like to make improvements to the signage.
The upstairs office tenants currently have no street-side identification, only lettering on the door to the second level and some red signs, not illuminated, on the side building.
The vintage neon Park & Shop sign in the parking lot lists just the names of the lower-level tenants, and they are lighted at night by overhanging spotlights.
"You have to know who's in here when you are driving by," she said. "Elm Grovers know, but the guy from Mukwonago or the gal from Menomonee Falls driving through … it's a hard time."
The local connection
Jim Ryan, president of the Elm Grove Business Association, said he is confident the transaction will be positive for the growth of the business association and the village.
"We are pleased that we have a new owner as fast as the sale was," he said, and that the new owners, like the former, are Elm Grove residents.
"(The Park & Shop) is a landmark and a point of entry for Elm Grove," he said, noting that it's a waypoint he tells visitors to watch for.
And it has a history of local ownership.
Prior to the Korkos' purchase, a partnership of four men owned the building for more than 30 years. They bought it from the man who built it, Burt Stenz. With the group getting older, they felt it was in the best interest of the property to sell it, Tom Kurtz, a member of that partnership, said.
"It's going to be meaningful to (the Korkoses) like it was to us," he added.
Korkos Investments also owns multifamily properties in Elm Grove, Brookfield and Wauwatosa.
The Park & Shop purchase has been an emotional one because of the family's deep ties to the community, Korkos said.
"My husband was born and raised here, and by purchasing this building, he feels he can give back to the community," she said. She is a 16-year resident of Elm Grove.
Tom, 45, and Christina, 43, have three children - Demi, 15, George, 13, and Maria, 10 - attending Elmbrook schools.
The amount of the sale was not disclosed, but village staff estimated the value of the land and building at $1.3 million based on 2009 tax bills.
The Park & Shop is full up. Here's a list of current tenants:
• Elm Grove post office
• Jenny's Cards & Gifts
• Stitch Inn
• Imperial Hair Care
• Mystic Ireland
• The Dooryard Gallery
• Pro Tech Verizon
• Penelope's Restaurant
• Joseph Pavletich, D.D.S., Family Dentistry
• Paper Envy
• Asian Business Consultants
• Phelan Industries
• North Star and North Haven Resort
• Travel Leisure
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