The Corners open-air retail center will soon begin taking shape in the town of Brookfield, with new equity partners now behind the project and a developer's agreement in the works.
In a special meeting of the Brookfield Town Board last week, real estate firm M&J Wilkow announced that the company and Cargill, Inc., will both be partnering with developer Marcus Corp. to provide the equity needed for the project.
David Harvey, principal and senior vice president for M&J Wilkow, said the intent is that Cargill would own 80 percent of the mixed-use development, with M&J Wilkow and Marcus Corp. each owning 10 percent. The projected value for the development has previously been estimated at $187 million.
After meeting in closed session to discuss the financing plan for the project, the Town Board authorized staff to move forward with finalizing negotiations with Marcus Corp. on a developer's agreement, to be brought back to the board for final approval, Town Administrator Rick Czopp said.
Careful with risk
The town plans to contribute about $25 million to $30 million toward the project, through creation of a tax-incremental financing district, which would be used to cover construction of the parking structure for the development, Czopp said. That investment would be paid back through property taxes generated within the TIF district.
Czopp said he is optimistic that an agreement will be presented to the board for approval "soon," although he could not provide a more specific estimate at this time.
"The main focus of the town on this whole thing, of course, is economic development, creation of jobs, but above all, protecting the taxpayers of the township so that we don't get stuck with the bill," Czopp said. "There are many distressed TIFs out there and we're not going to be one of them."
Timeline laid out
Site demolition is expected to begin by this December, said Tom Thayer, president of Tri-North Builders, the general contractor for the project, with the foundation concrete hopefully being poured by next February or March. The estimated completion date for the project is November, 2015.
Marcus Corp. would primarily oversee the construction portion of the multi-phase development, with M&J Wilkow also actively monitoring that process. Once construction is complete, M&J Wilkow would take charge of day-to-day operations.
Doug Neis, Marcus Corp. chief financial officer, explained to the board that the company has commonly used a similar joint-venture structure in its other businesses.
"It was very important to us as we were seeking an equity partner to work with here, that we had somebody that had expertise in this specific field," Neis said.
M&J Wilkow operates 6 million square feet of shopping centers, Harvey said, about half of which are directly comparable to the retail tenants planned for The Corners.
Tenants remain unnamed
The development will include a 140,000-square-foot Von Maur department store as an anchor and about 240,000 square feet for other retail and restaurant tenants, as well as additional office space and up to150 luxury apartments. It is expected to be comparable to other lifestyle centers operated by the company, Harvey said, including The Waterfront in Pittsburgh and Arlington Highlands in Arlington, Texas.
"The same kind of tenants that you would find at your enclosed malls, that's what comprises the base tenancy for these open-air, lifestyle centers," Harvey said, listing Anthropologie, Talbots and Express as examples.
Although it is not appropriate to announce specific retail tenants for The Corners at this time, Harvey said, the project is being viewed as a "best in class" asset.
Czopp stressed that The Corners, situated between Bluemound Road and Interstate 94, near Barker Road, stands to have a positive economic impact on the entire region, not just the town of Brookfield.
"With The Corners on one side, on the west end, and Brookfield Square on the east end two miles apart, and with all the businesses in between, I think that it's a boon for the area," Czopp said.
AT A GLANCE
More information on plans for The Corners, including a video with design renderings for the project, can be found at ddg-usa.com. Select "About Us" and "Projects by Region."
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