Brayton Management owner Bill Bode said the demand for rental housing in Menomonee Falls has risen to a level he has never seen before. That’s why he’s anxious to get started on a downtown development that’s been four years in the making.
Bode, who owns several properties downtown, is planning to construct two new apartment buildings along Appleton Avenue in the heart of the Village Centre. The project will include 64 new apartments, enclosed and surface parking, and 1,000 square feet of retail space.
The project calls for demolishing deteriorated vacant buildings along Appleton Avenue that have become eyesores. Bode is also on the same block.
The first building will be constructed just one block south of Main Street along Appleton Avenue. The existing vacant buildings from N88W16661 to N16683 will be razed to make way for a four-story, 30-unit apartment building that will include retail space on the ground floor.
“We’ll be demolishing a larger retail building along Appleton Avenue that is past it’s economic life and has become obsolete,” Bode said.
A second apartment building would be constructed at Appleton Avenue and Garfield Avenue at the parking lot. The existing structure at N87W16585 Appleton Avenue would be razed, and a three-story, 34-unit apartment building would be constructed there. The first floor would consist of enclosed parking, and the reconfigured Village Park parking lot would retain 32 parking stalls.
Bode said rents for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments will range from the low $800s to the low $1,000s. He said the developments would be similar to the apartments on Main Street and Mill Street, and on Main Street and Grand Avenue.
Bode’s proposal will begin the approval process with the village in June, and construction could begin late summer or early fall, if all goes to plan. He said the projects will take about 10 to 12 months to complete once started. Bode said a total cost for the project is still to be determined.
A win-win for the developer and the village
Bode said the new apartments will attract a mix of young professionals, young couples and middle-aged single professionals. But apart from who may come, simply bringing more people to downtown is vital to economic growth in the Village Centre.
“This is a real reinvigoration of the downtown area and the Village Centre,” Bode said. “These people will be shoppers and consumers of other goods and services in the area. New housing is the key to economic development and revitalization in a downtown area.”
Village Centre Manager Barb Watters couldn’t agree more with Bode’s assessment of the new development’s impact. She said the new apartments will drive up foot traffic in downtown, and also improve the aesthetics of the Village Centre. Both factors are key to attracting new businesses.
“Retailers will look at this as a more viable downtown to locate, relocate, or have a second location. They won’t to go where the people and foot traffic are lacking,” Watters said. “There is no bad side of this project at all. We get a better tax base and foot traffic increases. It’s a win-win situation for us all.”
Throughout the summer, downtown businesses will be improving their facades utilizing a funding program from the village. However, Watters said no matter how many nice buildings are downtown people will notice the eyesores. Razing the buildings along Appleton Avenue will go a long way in improving the appearance downtown, Watters said.
Apartments in high demand
Bode is optimistic that the new apartments will fill quickly. He has noticed a shift in the market as purchasing a home becomes more difficult. Bode said he’s anxious to get the project started to capitalize on the changing rental market.
“The housing market and mortgage market has changed so dramatically over the past four years,” Bode said. “People don’t have the same access to mortgage money, and more people are choosing to rent rather than buy a home.”
Watters added that the convenience of living in a downtown apartment also pushes the demand higher. With gas prices soaring through the roof, she said it makes sense to locate downtown.
“With the all great restaurants and shops we have downtown, people can just come home from work and they don’t have to go back in their car to shop and eat,” Watters said.