By fall of 2013, the former Stolper Steel site – which is currently a brown field near Pilgrim Road and Roosevelt Drive - will be completely transformed.
On Wednesday, leaders from the Wisconsin Athletic Club, Froedtert Health, Ryan Companies and Menomonee Falls broke ground on a 91,000-square-foot, $14 million sports rehabilitation facility and athletic club. However, on a frigid February afternoon, representatives actually stirred symbolic mulch rather than dig into the frozen earth.
“For the village, this is a big deal,” said Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald. “This was our most blighted property. It went way beyond an eyesore. It was a dismal entrance to Menomonee Falls.”
The groundbreaking was the culmination of over two years of planning, coordinating, and putting countless pieces together. The project falls within a taxing district created by the village in 2008 to redevelop that blighted and deteriorating part of the village. The taxing district is roughly 93 acres and is bound by U.S. Highway 41/45, Pilgrim Road, and Roosevelt Drive.
The village will invest roughly $30 million throughout the life of the taxing district to spur development, and the village will reimburse its upfront costs over 27 years with incremental tax values generated from new construction. The entire taxing district is expected to add some $80 to $120 million in tax value once all development is completed in the district.
The village invested $4.7 million into the district to raze factory and for environmental remediation of the soil, which was contaminated with a metal degreasing solvent used on the site years ago. The village purchased the land for $600,000 last year. The remediation project was completed in fall, and the village expects to begin its first phase of extending Richfield Way in spring.
"It's almost three years since we started with this. I'd have to say it's very important to note that Mr. (Mark) Fitzgerald's vision for what he wanted to occur in Menomonee Falls is a big reason this is here today," said WAC Chief Executive Officer Ray O'Connor.
The foundations for the first building are in the ground, and crews are ready to receive precast panels and steel. The construction should wrap up in fall. An upscale apartment complex is also planned in the taxing district.
“It was a very complex deal and we couldn’t be more delighted. This is a very big deal for the community and the village,” Fitzgerald said.
The medical facility on the site will house Froedtert’s sports medicine and orthopedic services for residents in Waukesha and Washington counties. The development is similar to a 14-year-old joint venture by the WAC and Froedtert in Wauwatosa, but on a larger scale.
“I understand firsthand the impact that coordinated care among physicians, trainers, and other providers, has on our patients. This facility will allow us to deliver that,” said Community Memorial Hospital president – and Falls longtime resident Dennis Pollard. “I look forward to seeing the revival this facility will bring to this area.”