Grafton Commons North to get review tonight
Proposal includes 55,000-square-foot retail space north of Costco

By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff

Jan. 24, 2018

If eventually approved, Grafton Commons North would be built on an empty lot north of Ulta Beauty, Pier 1 Imports and Costco.
News Graphic file photo

GRAFTON — The Grafton Commons North project will be back before the Grafton Plan Commission tonight, six months after the developer withdrew its original proposal prior to the village’s review.

Continental Properties told village officials at the time that they backed out to make improvements to their concept plans and provide the most complete documents possible.

The plans submitted for tonight’s meeting, however, look nearly identical to the first submission. They show two buildings on the 16.99-acre lot north of Costco on Port Washington Road. One building would contain three retail spaces of 5,000, 9,000 and 55,000 square feet each. The 55,000-square-foot space is similar to the size of Best Buy and Michaels combined. Village Planner Jessica Wolff said at the time that the size would indicate a national retailer.

The plan also includes an outlot between Port Washington Road and the main building, 55,000-square-foot space.

The old plan, submitted in July 2017 then pulled from the agenda at the last minute, included the same three tenant-building and a 3,068-squarefoot outlot building with a drive-thru.

The only visible changes between the two concept plans are a slight resizing and an adjustment in placement of the second building and orientation on the concept plan. There is also a small adjustment to an access drive between Costco and Grafton Commons North.

Continental Properties Development Director Joe Berkhahn, who has been the village’s contact on the project, said in October that Continental has a national retailer for the largest space, but no name has ever been shared on the prospective tenant. He did not return calls for comment from the News Graphic.

Berkhahn also said in October that Continental withdrawing their proposal “was really just to clean up the plan, so we could make it better under the current comprehensive plan.”

At the time, the village of Grafton Plan Commission was discussing possible changes to the comprehensive plan, expanding zoning options and potential development types, which Commission discussions indicated was triggered by Continental’s withdrawal.

Multiple commissions voted against changes after that, citing Continental as a reason because they felt the rules should not be changed while a developer was in the midst of planning.

Other documents submitted by Continental for Grafton Commons North are the same as what was used six months ago; the same documents were resubmitted, including original dates and timeline, without any alteration. For example, the plan of operation submitted for tonight’s concept review indicated construction was to start last fall.

A staff report from Wolff reiterates a variety of concerns about the plan that are the same now as they were last summer. Her report states that the development does not include enough parking to meet village regulations, there is concern about fire access on two sides of the main building location and none of the tenants for Grafton Commons North have been named.

During the first go-around, Wolff indicated Continental would have to name at least two tenants, including the tenant of the 55,000-square-foot space, before final approval could be obtained.

<<EARLIER: Another ‘national retailer’ likely headed to Grafton Commons