Foxtown plans OK’d
Restored brewery aims to open in a year

By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic

Oct. 17, 2017

Developers want to renovate a century-old brewery, above, into a microbrewery and restaurant, below, at the corner of Mequon Road and Buntrock Avenue.
 Photo by Mark Justesen

Submitted rendering

MEQUON — A year from now, you should be able to tip a glass and celebrate Oktoberfest at the renovated 1857-era brewery along Mequon Road.

Developers of the ambitious Foxtown project – expected to be built in phases on the south side of Mequon Road in the city’s Town Center – received unanimous approval from the Planning Commission Oct. 9 for the concept plan and rezoning.

That action allows the $50 million project to clear another significant hurdle as it advances toward reality on a nearly 14-acre parcel described now as being “essentially blighted.”

Project architect Stephen P. Smith told commissioners developers hope to break ground on the first phase by spring and have the restored, two-story brewery open for business in time for Oktoberfest.

“This is a phenomenal-looking project. Thank you for your interest in doing this in Mequon,” said Alderman John Wirth, who represents the Common Council on the Planning Commission.

The Foxtown project is considered the third major project in the Mequon Town Center, which is anchored by the first phase at the corner of Mequon and Cedarburg roads. The district stretches west along Mequon Road and includes the planned Spur 16 development on the now-vacant city Public Works property. Several large apartment developments are also in the area.

In addition to the first-phase sit-down restaurant and brewery, plans for Foxtown include:

96 residential apartments

A mixed-use retail center

A three-story project that will include retail and office space, as well as extended-stay apartments

21 single-family lots that will be developed as “porchhome” condominiums. The units, patterned after a development in Libertyville, Ill., will be priced at about $500,000. The developer is Lakeside Development.

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; Thomas Mortenson, R.A. Smith National, project landscape architect; and Smith, the project architect.

Under the timeline discussed with the Planning Commission, it’s likely development of the apartments will come next. Construction could begin by this coming spring as well. It’s anticipated the entire project will be completed in four to six years, Smith said.

“It all depends on the market,” he said. “We feel very confident; we just need to get going.”

The development along Mequon Road and adjacent Industrial Drive will result in the demolition of several existing buildings, including the former bus terminal, Schmitt Ready Mix and Gateway Forms.

The former lumber shed and brewery building will be renovated as part of the overall project. As part of the plan, Industrial Drive would be widened and on-street parking would be included.

Matt Haven, president of Telsmith Inc., a manufacturer of mining equipment located just to the south of the planned development on Industrial Drive, spoke during the meeting. He commended everyone’s effort in putting together the project and voiced concern that the condominiums would be located adjacent to Telsmith.

“We are a little bit noisy at times,” he said. “We want to be good neighbors … we want to work with everyone as we move this project forward.”

Smith said he is enthusiastic about the project and the individuals who are behind it.

“We’re all optimists here,” he said. “You have local stakeholders here who are committed to seeing this through. Tom Nieman is the visionary on this project – and we’re very confident this project will be a success.”

<<EARLIER: Foxtown gets a thumbs-up