WEST BEND -
With new investors and an ambitious plan to develop a $30
million multi-use center to provide jobs and services for
veterans within four years, owner John Bagley hopes he can
convince West Bend officials the former Bermico factory is worth
“I want to get along with the city,” Bagley said Thursday. “I
want to redevelop this area.”
Since July the city has asked Washington County Circuit Court to
rule the 7-acre property at 2100 Northwestern Ave. should be
closed and removed as a public health and safety hazard.
The property is between the Milwaukee River and the Eisenbahn
State Trail, a block west of Barton Park.
Maureen Look of Milwaukee is offering an alternative idea to
convert the mostly vacant industrial space into a mixed retail
and office complex that would provide jobs and job training for
On Thursday, she delivered a letter of intend to City Hall
stating her plan “to revitalize this land and building to its
She will present her proposal before Circuit Court Judge James
Muehlbauer on Dec. 4 with the hope he will dismiss the city’s
West Bend City Administrator T.J. Justice and City Attorney
Karen Christianson would not comment on the Bagley-Look
Look said she has investors interested in the project and will
apply for federal and state grants for further funding. She
already has a three-member board to assist her, Look said.
“It’s really an altruistic desire of mine to help the veterans,”
Look said. She is a teacher and a freelance vendor bid/grant
writer for the past 25 years.
Since 2013, Bagley’s JHB Investments LLC has been renovating the
97,665-squarefoot factory, some of which was built in 1927, to
lease out as industrial sites.
“I was having so much feedback from the city, as we all know,
fighting industrial use,” Bagley said. “It’s too difficult to
keep it as an industrial site.”
In July, Look contacted Bagley. “It was providence. I was
looking for a new project. He was looking for someone to help
redevelop this area,” she said.
Look’s nonprofit Economic Redevelopment for Veteran
Opportunities Inc. would lease nearly all of the building,
Look and Bagley said they have a tentative plan to redevelop the
property in six phases, which would start in the spring: Phase 1
— “We’d start small with a coffee shop and parking lot,” Look
said; Phase 2 — Community Ascent, a job skills training center
for veterans, and My Office Too, rental office space; Phase 3 —
Bermico Belay, a public 50,000-square-foot climbing gym; Phase 4
— Incubator space to launch veteran-owned businesses and
additional parking; Phase 5 — Restaurant and grocery store;
Phase 6 — West Bend Ecology Center.