ReStore to take over vacant Gander Mountain building in Germantown
Big box space has been empty since retailer went bankrupt in 2017

By Dave Fidlin - For the Daily News

Jan. 16, 2019

The former Gander Mountain building is seen Tuesday afternoon in Germantown.
John Ehlke/Daily News

GERMANTOWN — A former big-box retail space in Germantown that once housed Gander Mountain could soon be repurposed for an expanded resale shop operated by Habitat for Humanity.

Details of the thrift shop, ReStore, were discussed at a village Plan Commission meeting Monday and are moving forward to the Village Board next week with a favorable recommendation.

Gander Mountain announced plans of closing its Germantown store, W190 N10768 Commerce Circle, in March 2017 as the company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy and subsequently shuttered all of its stores.

In the near two years since, the retail space has been sitting dormant, awaiting its next long-term tenant.

“We’ve had occasional tenants, including the Halloween Store,” said Jeff Retzlaff, the village’s planning and zoning administrator. “But there’s been nothing permanent since Gander Mountain.”

Habitat currently has a ReStore thrift shop near the former Gander Mountain in a multi-tenant complex at W188 N10707 Maple Commerce Circle. The organization’s current retail space in Germantown is a fraction of the size of Gander Mountain, which clocks in at 31,080 square feet.

According to details submitted to the village, Habitat plans to continue operating the Germantown thrift shop from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

The organization’s business proposal states proceeds benefit Habitat’s efforts in Washington and Dodge counties.

Donations, which are a pivotal part of the operations plan, will continue to be accepted at the new Germantown location, though drop-offs will now be taken inside the facility.

Donations currently are received outside the current Maple Commerce Circle building because of cramped quarters.

While noting Habitat’s laudable mission and the lifeblood ReStore retail sites play into it, village officials are attempting to put in place safeguards to ensure unwanted items do not result in an unsightly appearance. Plans call for putting stipulations in a conditional-use permit.

“Staff recommends that, if approved, the CUP be used to require the Habitat ReStore operation to diligently monitor and establish procedure to mitigate, if not prohibit, after-hours donations of unusable and unsightly items at the new facility,” Retzlaff wrote in a memo.

He added, “This has been a problem at the existing location, likely due to the relatively small building size.”

Also Monday, commissioners gave a favorable recommendation to a proposed business known as Redline Canine Training Center and Behavioral Consultation. Owner Lynne Luckow has submitted plans to operate the business within a multi-tenant building at W188 N11786 Maple Road.

Luckow said Redline intends to have a multipronged business plan, including one-on-one specialty training services for canines. Also in the works, Luckow said, is a community outreach component that would offer interested dog owners informational sessions on interacting with their four-footed friends.

Commissioners expressed concerns of potential noise disturbances. While she could not guarantee noise would not be emitted from the facility, Luckow said she anticipated it being minimal.

“It’s not like a daycare, where you’ve got multiple dogs running around,” Luckow said of her operations plan. The Village Board will take up and make a final determination on the Plan Commission’s recommendations at its meeting Monday.