BROOKFIELD — The proposed
transformation of a former high-end grocery store space into a
university campus building in Brookfield moved one step closer to
reality this week.
The Common Council on Tuesday voted to schedule a public hearing for
the proposal, which calls for Herzing University relocating its
Brookfield campus into the former Fresh Market building at
15895 W. Bluemound Road.
The scheduled hearing is a pivotal step under city code in bringing
to fruition Herzing’s plans to occupy the 23,000-square-foot
building, which has sat dormant since July when Fresh Market decided
to leave the Milwaukee market in a round of store closings.
The city Plan Commission will host the hearing, which has been
scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11.
The university, which has roots stretching back to 1965, began
operating in Brookfield in 2010 within a multi-tenant building at
555 S. Executive Drive. Herzing, which has about 6,500 students
enrolled, has nine campuses across the U.S.
Aldermen did not weigh in on Herzing’s plans for the Fresh Market
space at Tuesday’s meeting, opting instead to issue the swift vote
in favor of the upcoming public hearing.
But the Plan Commission, which met Monday, did comb through the
proposal during an initial presentation of the conceptual plans.
Renee Herzing, president of Herzing University, went before
commissioners early this week and laid out the rationale for
relocating the local campus to a former retail space.
“We’re here to tell you what a great partner we think we can be,”
Herzing said. “We think this can be a great, symbiotic partnership.”
CBL Properties, the Tennessee- based firm that owns most of
Brookfield Square — including the former freestanding Fresh Market
space — has signed off on Herzing’s proposal, citing its desire to
transition the mall from a strictly retail site to a mixed-use
suburban town center model.
Herzing and CBL executives said the university’s presence on the
mall property would be mutually beneficial. The university targets
career-age adults who are seeking specialized fields, including
nursing, health care and physical therapy.
Alderman Gary Mahkorn, who sits on the Plan Commission, said he was
skeptical of the proposal when he first learned of it last week.
“We’re firmly protective of the Bluemound Road corridor,” Mahkorn
said, pointing out it is an important part of the city’s economic
lifeblood. “We want to see it thrive.”
But after meeting with Herzing executives and learning CBL was
behind the plans, Mahkorn said he was receptive to the reuse of
“Herzing is not fly-by-night,” Mahkorn said.
Once commissioners host the public hearing next month, a formal
recommendation will be forwarded to the decision-making council for
further deliberation and action.