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Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek finds another notable tenant

Water Street Brewery is latest on growing high-profile list

May 20, 2014

Oak Creek — Drexel Town Square has officially broken ground, and the list of new high profile tenants has continued to grow.

More than 200 people who attended Drexel's groundbreaking ceremony on May 10 heard the latest anticipated tenant, Water Street Brewery, reveal its plans to make the major development area its home.

The eatery will join big-box grocer/retailer Meijer and the Sheraton hotel chain, plus upscale apartment developers and the city of Oak Creek itself, at the site of the old Delphi manufacturing plant.

Drexel Town Square is a multi-use development at West Drexel and South Howell avenues that will serve as Oak Creek's new downtown. This development is a collaboration between the city of and Wispark LLC, We Energies' real estate development company.

The site will feature a mix of civic, retail, restaurant, hotel and residential uses, including the new City Hall and public library buildings. It will also provide a permanent site for farmers markets, outdoor concerts, a place for ice skating in winter and a splash pad in the summer.

Drexel affords 114,350 total square feet of retail space, said Doug Seymour, director of community development. That doesn't include the up to 192,000 square feet of space that will be occupied by Meijer, which signed as an anchoring tenant earlier.

Water Street Brewery

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Water Street Brewery announced its plans to open its fourth brew pub in Wisconsin. The first was on Water Street in Milwaukee in 1987. Its design will be modeled after Oak Creek's rich industrial and manufacturing history, with seating up to 350 people.

"Going south makes a lot of sense for us," said Matt Schmidt, Water Street Brewery's director of operations. "It's a place that can draw from a lot of different areas."

In addition to its downtown Milwaukee site, Water Street Brewery has locations in Grafton and Delafield.

As for choosing Drexel Town Square, Schmidt said Water Street's diverse menu — fit for family lunches, sport games, rehearsal dinners and more — can serve a lot of people who live in the neighborhood "and make it their own."

The restaurant hopes to open in June 2015, the same time as many other tenants.

A new Sheraton

On the east side of Drexel Town Square, a Four Points by Sheraton hotel will be built.

The 108-room hotel is expected to open September 2015, the Journal Sentinel reported in February, and would offer up to 2,000 square feet of meeting space, a fitness center, swimming pool and a restaurant and bar.

Emerald Row

Luxury apartments in Emerald Row, developed by Barrett Visionary Development, will feature amenities "unlike anything we've ever seen," said Mayor Steve Scaffidi on his city blog.

Founder Rick Barrett couldn't agree more.

"We're looking at this as a cutting-edge, Class-A apartment project that becomes signature to Oak Creek to create a marketplace that some of the other apartments haven't been able to capture," Barrett said. "We're trying to bring some allure to young professionals to stay and in live in Oak Creek."

Emerald Row apartments will be within walking distance to nearby retail outlets. In fact, Barrett said "walkability" is the future of real estate development and is "the most important thing about that project."

Emerald Row is a three-phase development that is expected to build between 550 and 600 total apartment units in Drexel Town Square. Construction on the first phase will begin in September, with leasing available 12 to 15 months later, said Barrett.

Main Street and more

WiRED Properties also announced the opening of two buildings with retail and 50 to 60 apartment units by summer 2015.

President Blair Williams of WiRED is also in charge of developing Drexel's the Main Street component, which is a two-block stretch running directly into the town square. There will be a strong presence of food and beverage retailers and other amenities that will favor pedestrian traffic, said Williams.

"We are working very hard to find a mix of retailers that create a dynamic community, which means we are a little bit picky of who we are targeting. We think Main Street is an expression of a community's identity and we think we have a big responsibility to make sure the mix of retailers on Main Street is really reflective of Oak Creek," said Williams.

Oak Creek's existing City Hall and public library, located at 8640 S. Howell Ave. and 8620 S. Howell Ave., respectively, are owned by Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District and will be redeveloped to accommodate student overcrowding.

According to an Oak Creek NOW article published in February, possible redevelopment might include building a separate ninth-grade center at the high school campus, a new elementary school building, adding on to West Middle School, and any combination of these options, said Superintendent Sara Burmeister.

February's article states that 6,444 students enrolled in OCFSD in the 2013-14 school year, which is approximately 2,000 more than were enrolled in 2000-01 school year. Also, five elementary grade levels, out of six, are above capacity.

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