Thiensville bank building coming down
Village to issue demolition OK

By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic Staff

July 18, 2017

 The former M&I Bank building in Thiensville likely will be demolished soon.
Photo by Mark Justesen

THIENSVILLE — The bank building that has sat vacant at 200 Green Bay Road for the last 10 years likely will be coming down.

Thiensville’s Historic Preservation Commission – “with regret” – cleared the way Wednesday for a demolition permit, which the Planning Commission likely will approve tonight.

The demolition is the final step in a 10-month effort in which the village directed owner MSP Real Estate Inc. to make a final effort to locate a prospective buyer for the building and property.

The new bank building opened in August 1963 as the third home of Thiensville State Bank, which had been in operation in the village since 1910. The building operated under several other names over the years. Thiensville State Bank changed its name to Colonial State Bank in 1973. It was bought by Valley Bank in 1989. Valley was acquired by M& I in 1994. The branch closed May 18, 2007. The building has been vacant since.

Over the past years, developers made several proposals for the site, most of which were met with opposition from neighbors. They included an assisted-living facility, a three-story luxury apartment development and a smaller apartment project. In all cases, the plans were withdrawn by the developer.

Twin Cities-based MSP made several of the proposals for the 1.19-acre site. Another developer, who built the condominiums on Elm Street just west of Village Hall, proposed the smaller apartment project.

MSP asked the village to issue a demolition permit last September. The HPC denied that request. The Village Board conducted a public hearing in October before directing the owner to try again to find a buyer interested in occupying the building.

“There were a number of people who expressed interest,” Village President Van Mobley said Monday. “There was one serious person, but it never really moved forward. They looked at it very carefully and very exhaustively.”

The HPC, led by Trustee Ron Heinritz, made a strong effort to keep the building standing, arguing it was a historic structure. Even after the demolition permit advanced last week, Heinritz continued to urge the MSP representative to keep looking for a tenant who might keep the building standing.

The expected issuance of the demolition permit tonight is basically a done deal. Mobley said he plans to discuss how the water well on the property will be dealt with. Otherwise, he said plans to tear down the building and remove all the asphalt and concrete are detailed in a landscaping plan MSP has submitted.

Village Administrator Dianne Robertson said Friday that the state Department of Natural Resources has rules that say a water well cannot remain dormant for more than three years.

Mark Hammond, director of development for MSP, attended the HPC meeting and walked through the details of the already-submitted landscaping plan. He said the site will be completely cleared and will be seeded with grass. MSP intends to keep all the trees on the land.

Hammond agreed that efforts to sell the property in the last 10 months “fizzled out.”

Mobley said he suspects the parcel will be easier to sell without the building.

“They’re sophisticated land owners. They think the parcel is (more marketable) if it’s vacant and cleaned up,” he said. “They could very well be right.”