Developers of Kmart site trying again tonight

By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff

Dec. 16, 2014

A rendering shows new plans for a vacant former Kmart site at 120 E. Sunset Drive. The Plan Commission will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. today to discuss whether to give final approval to the updated plan.   
Submitted rendering

WAUKESHA — Less than a week after essentially being sent back to the drawing board by the Plan Commission, prospective developers of a long-vacant Kmart site on Sunset Drive have tweaked the design in hopes of getting a second chance for approval.

Tonight, the Plan Commission will have a special meeting at 5:30 p.m., just prior to the Common Council meeting, to discuss a final site plan for the property at 120 E. Sunset Drive.

Last week, the commission put the project on hold until the prospective developers could bring back a more visually interesting plan. Specifically, commissioners took issue with the 115,857-square-foot building’s long, uninterrupted roof line.

Monday, Community Development Specialist Jeff Fortin said architect Jeff Stowe submitted plans that include more dimension for the front of the building, so it doesn’t appear so long and flat.

“Staff thinks it breaks up the building a little more,” Fortin said. “And there will be the two outlots, so we believe we can get a bolder design out of them as well as the 10,000-square-foot addition, since that will all be new construction.”

Fortin said staff will recommend approval, as it did with the original plans, but of course it will be up to the commission and ultimately the Common Council to make the final call.

Fortin said the prospective developers want project approvals wrapped up by the end of the year because they hope to close on the sale of the building as soon as possible.

Plans show the building being split into several units depending on what types of tenants end up moving in. Broker Jon Thoresen said if all goes as planned, the site will eventually include a fitness center and more than one restaurant.

At the last Plan Commission meeting, Commissioner Kevin Larson said this new retail center could compete with The Shoppes at Fox River if it’s handled appropriately — especially since city money is involved.

Last month, the council approved creating a tax incremental financing district on the site.

TIF District 22 will include an upfront incentive payment of $2 million and a $600,000 pay-as-you go TIF that will be paid back as the tax value is realized.

The site is assessed at $3.7 million, but the developer’s agreement includes a provision that the value will increase to $13 million.