Waukesha considering purchase of blighted strip mall
Proposal calls for buying 3.3-acre property across from City Hall

By CARA SPOTO - Special to the Freeman

Jan. 14, 2018

              

The city of Waukesha has made an offer to purchase a long-vacant strip mall at 200 Delafield St. The property sits directly across from City Hall.

Cara Spoto/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA — The city of Waukesha has made an offer to purchase the long-blighted, vacant strip mall across from City Hall.

The offer, which is not yet final, calls for the city to purchase roughly 3.3 acres of land directly across from City Hall on Delafield Street for $550,000. The property includes the vacant strip mall at 200 Delafield Ave., a vacant parcel behind that building, and a property at 318 Delafield St. that is currently home to an auto shop.

“It’s part of a package from the property owner,” Community Development Director Jennifer Andrews said Friday of the arrangement. “They want to sell them all together.” The Redevelopment Authority has been eyeing the strip mall property for redevelopment for more than six years, Andrews said.

In its current state the property generates very little property tax revenue. With a residential or mixedused development at the site, the tax revenue the city collects from the property could increase greatly.

“When we did our central city master plan in 2012 we actually had a specific plan drawn up for the site, because even at that time we thought the site was ripe for redevelopment,” Andrews noted.

Andrews presented the details of the city’s offer to the Plan Commission earlier this week, but before the Common Council makes a decision on whether to officially purchase the property, which could happen next month, city staff will be doing their final inspections.

The council gave staff permission to make an offer on the property during a closed session meeting last year, Andrews said.

If the city does end up purchasing the property, city development staff

would approach aldermen and Redevelopment Authority members with a plan for demolishing the buildings on the site and then marketing the land to developers.

At one point the city had contemplated using the site for a new City Hall, but aldermen recently

decided that any reconstruction of, or improvements to, City Hall would take place on the hall’s existing site.

“If we do acquire this property it could spur another discussion about that, but that is not really the reason we are buying it. Really, the initial impetus for buying (the property) was its condition and declining property value,” Andrews said.