Jeff and Laura Karvala stand
behind the register at their store, JLK Outlet, LLC in the
New Berlin City Center Thursday.The store is one of the last
pieces going into place, meaning the City Center retail
space is all but filled.
Brian Huber/Freeman Staff
NEW BERLIN —
Walking about in downtown New Berlin on Thursday with friends,
resident Barb Zacher said she was pleased with what the City
Center has to offer.
“I’d love to see it keep developing,” she said. “I think it’d be
But there isn’t much more room for new businesses, as the area
that makes up the City Center is nearly 100 percent occupied.
The City Center, which includes the new developments around the
library, the parcel that includes the current Walmart and Pick
’n Save stores, and the Sendik’s Plaza across the street, is all
A day care center is under construction and Dickey’s BBQ Pit is
readying its space to open soon. A plot next to a car wash has
drawn interest from some restaurants, and is the last major
vacant parcel in the City Center, an idea more than a decade in
A monument sign identifying the
New Berlin City Center stands at Coffee and Moorland roads
Thursday. Behind it is part of the Sendik’s Plaza, which
includes a Sendik’s store,
a Dunkin’ Donuts and more.
Brian Huber/Freeman Staff
The vitality of the City
Center is part of what drew former Alderwoman Laura Karvala and
her husband, Jeff, to open JLK Outlet, LLC, which had a soft
opening several weeks ago and is planning a formal ribbon-
cutting today. Karvala said her husband has worked as a
purchasing manager, and he is really the driving force behind
the store, which carries clothing and accessories for people of
almost all ages and sizes.
“We’ve been looking at and actually wanting to do this for the
last four years so it’s something we’ve been working on. When it
kind of came about, the whole City Center thing kind of opened
our eyes as to what should be in there,” she said. “It was a
risk we were willing to take. We believe in New Berlin and the
City Center surviving and becoming something.”
True to vision
While many may remember the City Center as being a lightning rod
of controversy over affordable housing that eventually led to a
settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Mayor Dave Ament
said that was only part of the story and a signal that the city
needed to focus on the original vision of a pedestrian- friendly
area mixing shops and residential developments.
“The idea is if we just kept on going the way we were going and
sitting around whining about whether we got a black eye from
that process or not, and no question we did, it was time to move
on,” he said. “So we are trying very hard to get to back into
that vision, the small local retail shops along with some of the
bigger ones like Sendik’s, Pick ’n Save, that type of
Ament said a key aspect of that is to find local businesses that
will last rather than seeing lots of turnover. Businesses like
Round 9 and Great Wraps are doing well, and pedestrian traffic
in the area has been quite busy, he said.
“Somebody like Laura’s JLK, really, we’d like to see those types
of businesses moving in, although you need some bigger
retailers, but it fits the vision they originally had for the
City Center of small local shops with a nice pedestrian
atmosphere and accessibility and that’s what we are trying to
do,” Ament said.
Ongoing road work in the City Center and at Coffee Road and
National Avenue will include more signage, decorative pavement,
and possibly even a clock tower to provide more of a town square
feel to the final product, Ament said.
Down the road
In the future, there is still an area on the south side of the
City Center that could eventually see about a dozen
single-family homes added, but nothing is very active right now
on that front, Ament said.
Elsewhere, the city is beginning to turn its eye toward what it
calls “Section 35,” more than a square mile in the southeastern
quadrant of the city, from Sunnyslope to Moorland roads between
College and Grange avenues, that the city is considering for
some large retail, potential residential use athletic fields.
Residents of the area are being presented with ideas and asked
for feedback, but Ament said things are as much as 10 to 20
years down the road.
In the mean time, Karvala said the early returns on JLK Outlet
have been good, with customers providing positive comments and
lots of reasons for optimism all around her.
“With other businesses coming it in, it’s nice to see it coming
together,” she said.