Foxtown gets a thumbs-up
Plans draw praise during initial city review

By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic Staff

August 15, 2017

A craft brewery is proposed to occupy the now-vacant brewery on Mequon Road.
Photo by Mark Justesen

MEQUON — While plenty of details must be worked out before the first shovel of dirt is turned, plans for Foxtown, the third phase of the Mequon Town Center, earned an enthusiastic review by a city committee last week.

The scheduled discussion before the Mequon Planning Commission Aug. 7 was the first opportunity to run the plans for the multifaceted development up the city’s flagpole.

“Overall, it’s a phenomenal-looking project – and if the vision comes true, a great addition to Mequon,” said Alderman John Wirth, the Common Council’s representative on the Planning Commission.

Mayor Dan Abendroth praised the developers for taking “underutilized land” and turning it into a $50 million development.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for the city,” he said. “You’re on the right track. The architecture is beautiful and I urge you to continue.”

The project on the 18-acre site on the south side of Mequon Road and west of the railroad tracks will be phased in over several years, according to a 62-page-long document filed with city staff. While it ultimately may include 96 luxury apartments, 23 “porch-home” condominiums, restaurants, retail and office space, the most prominent first piece will be the renovation of a still-standing 19th-century brewery.

That building at the southeast corner of Mequon Road and Buntrock Avenue would be transformed into a 6,750-square-foot beer-themed restaurant with an outdoor beer garden. The site will include a public beer hall with a dance floor and banquet hall seating. In a separate action at the same meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously approved a zoning variance to allow a craft brewery. A fall 2018 opening is planned.

The discussion of Foxtown came the day prior to the Common Council’s review of a parking study that involved the first phase of the Town Center and the surrounding area. That study concluded that there is insufficient parking and made numerous recommendations that will be explored in September.

The initial renovation of the brewery includes 66 parking spots. Parking details for the other phases include 111 parking spots for cars in a 13,000-squarefoot brewery and beer hall with a proposed opening in the summer of 2019. The proposed apartments would have 184 parking spots.

The development team includes several individuals with longtime business ties to Mequon. Many in the group recently proposed raising funds for a community project that would remake much of the nearby civic campus, including upgrades to the city’s swimming pool and adjacent Rennicke Field. Group members are: Thomas Nieman, Fromm Family Foods; Robert Bach, P2 Development; John Graham, Real Estate Advisors; Tom Zabjek and Scott Humber, Lakeside Development; Gordon Goggins, restaurateur; Gregg Thompson, Thompson Project Management; Rinka Chung Architects; Stephen P. Smith, architect; and Thomas Mortenson, R.A. Smith National, project landscape architect.

Smith, the architect, said the development “will be of the highest quality” and meets the design guidelines for the Town Center.

“To take 17 acres that is essentially blighted and create something that is worth $50 million – it’s taken the vision of someone like Tom Nieman to put his money where his mouth is,” he said.

Several members of the public spoke before the developers.

Lora Reinholz, representing the River Birch Place Condo Home Association, urged commissioners “to get it right the first time” when it comes to parking. She said she loves the proposed retail and restaurant space, “but I’m very concerned about approving additional housing now.”

The apartments and porch homes – patterned after a concept in Libertyville, Ill. – would be in addition to 28 apartments in the first phase of the Town Center. Other projects that are recently finished or nearing completion are The Reserve, an 81-unit apartment development at 6835 W. Mequon Road and the 33unit Dermond Property Investments project at 11130 N. Buntrock Road. Spur 16, the second phase of the Town Center on the north side of Mequon Road, has proposed 156 rental units.

Peter Moegenburg, a development specialist who is consulting on the project, told the Planning Commission, Foxtown is targeted toward tenants interested in living in a walkable neighborhood. The residential component is integral, he added.

“You have to have the people in the space in order for the commercial space to prosper,” he said

Email: gachterberg@conleynet.com

<<EARLIER: Brewery, restaurant anchor next phase of Town Center

<<EARLIER: Mequon Town Center: Two years later