New plan presented for old Bermico factory

By Dave Rank - Daily News

Oct. 31, 2014

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 saving.

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 veterans.

On Thursday, she delivered a letter of intend to City Hall stating her plan to revitalize this land and building to its potential.

She will present her proposal before Circuit Court Judge James Muehlbauer on Dec. 4 with the hope he will dismiss the citys lawsuit.

West Bend City Administrator T.J. Justice and City Attorney Karen Christianson would not comment on the Bagley-Look proposal.

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.

Its 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, Bagleys 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. Its 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.

Looks nonprofit Economic Redevelopment for Veteran Opportunities Inc. would lease nearly all of the building, Bagley said.

Look and Bagley said they have a tentative plan to redevelop the property in six phases, which would start in the spring: Phase 1 Wed 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.