North Main suite still sits empty
4 of building’s other units are leased

By DAVE RANK - Daily News

June 27, 2014

Rebecca Heissel of West Bend walks to Old Settler’s Park to find a bench
Thursday afternoon in West Bend

John Ehlke/Daily News


WEST BEND - More than two years after the state approved a construction plan to expand the building at 156 N. Main St. for a new sports bar in downtown West Bend, that suite remains vacant.

“The client that was initially interested pulled out,” building owner Geoff Littrel said. “The permitting process took awhile but we got state approval for those plans. Then the client backed out.”

Littrel will soon face another vacancy. Earlier this month, owner Betty Jo Kiefert announced she will close her organic food store, Settler’s Park Market, 152 N. Main St., on July 12.

That 800-square-foot suite is adjacent to 156 N. Main St.

“I’m trying to find a tenant for the Settler’s Park suite,” Littrel said. “I don’t have any tenants for the vacant suite. I am looking for someone to move their business there.”

Combining both suites into a single unit is a possibility if a prospective tenant is interested, Littrel said. “That is an option I will offer.”

The building, which houses six commercial tenant suites and second floor apartments, is located just south of Old Settlers Park. Littrel bought the building in December 2010. The four other commercial units are leased.

Kellie Boone, event manager for the Downtown West Bend Association, sees Littrel’s building as a key site in the Historic Downtown District.

“With it’s visibility, it would be a great spot for someone to fill in,” she said. “It would be great for downtown to fill in any vacancy.”
 
Littrel owns Littrel Home Repair LLC.

“I would very much like to do something with the building because of its prominent locations next to Old Settlers Park, Music on Main and the Farmers’ Market,” he said.

Boone said the vacancy isn’t detrimental to downtown events, “But I know it makes a visual impact on the people who come downtown. It would be nice if it was filled.”

The vacant suite has 800 square feet. The planned addition would have added another 800 square feet, Littrel said.

The addition was planned for the north side of the building facing the park. It would have been built on the foundation of the portion of the existing building’s basement that extends beneath the sidewalk, which is in need of repairs.

No one knows why the building’s basement extends under the sidewalk, which in years past was the rightof- way for Elm Street that once intersected with North Main Street there.

That right-of-way was the reason for the delay in getting state approval from the Department of Safety and Professional Services, according to a Daily News article in November 2011.

When Old Settlers Park was created, the city never vacated the Elm Street right-of-way, city officials said. The DSPS worried that the city would someday re-extend Elm Street to North Main Street, which would block required exiting for the three-level sports bar and a planned exterior staircase.

The problem was solved when the city approved a Grant of Privilege to Littrel.

Littrel’s tenant dropped out of the project before any of the remodeling began, he said. “I think the cost of the remodeling was an issue. That got to be quite expensive.”