TOWN OF BROOKFIELD – In a literal sense, The Corners extends east from Barker Road to Poplar Creek. More prominently, it fits snugly between Bluemound Road and Interstate 94.
But if you ask most people familiar with the project, its reach goes much further.
With Bradford Real Estate and IM Properties’ 750,000-square-foot mixed-use lifestyle center set to formally open this weekend, celebration is commonplace and excitement abounds, but such effects are not limited to the aforementioned boundaries.
“The opening of The Corners will have a tremendous impact on the region," Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow said. "It’s creating more than a thousand new jobs, bringing new businesses and housing to the area, and allowing local businesses to expand."
Town of Brookfield officials have often effused about the potential that their new crown development would bring to the area.
“It is for the whole region. My comment has always been that between Brookfield Square and The Corners, that the whole area will develop and redevelop,” town of Brookfield chairperson Keith Henderson said. “We’ve already seen it, and more is coming.”
As early as the fall of 2014 the town has entertained plans for the redevelopment of the northeast corner of the Barker-Bluemound intersection — directly across Bluemound from The Corners.
“We want to at least take a look at the highest and best-use potential for those lands,” town development services administrator Gary Lake said at the time. “If The Corners happens, all the existing economics for that area are out the window because suddenly that corner is a lot more valuable.”
Fast-forward to 2017 and The Corners is indeed happening; opening April 8 to be exact.
While the Bradford Real Estate and IM Properties project has transformed from a vacant Menard’s store into an enormous parking structure with hundreds of luxury apartments and a number of first-in-Wisconsin retail tenants, the outlooks of town of Brookfield officials has not changed.
“I fully expect that you’re going to see a wave of redevelopment continue along Bluemound from Barker to Janacek (Road),” town of Brookfield supervisor John Schatzman said. “We’re going to see that probably morph from industrial to a high-end commercial, multi-use blend. You’re going to see somebody just grab that entire piece and do something with it.”
It's been almost two years since ground broke on The Corners lifestyle center in the town of Brookfield. Now, retail and restaurants are set to open this weekend. Take a look at the transformation of the project. CT Kruger/Now Media Group
One opinion that has changed — or at least shifted slightly — in recent years is that of city of Brookfield mayor Steve Ponto.
In the early years of conversation, Ponto and many city officials were vocally opposed to the proposal for The Corners.
“Obviously initially we had concerns about it," Ponto said. "We had outside consultants going back to 2001 who had told us that it would be best to concentrate major retail along Bluemound Road at Brookfield Square."
However, as The Corners gets set to open, Ponto admitted he has become hopeful about the potential of the development and the ripple effect it could have on his own neighboring community.
“That was a long time ago. I think all of Bluemound Road is really prospering at this point and I’m delighted to see that and I’m hopeful that The Corners development will contribute to that general prospering,” Ponto said.
Ponto pointed at the ongoing development of The Corridor, the redevelopment of Plaza 173 into Calhoun Crossings by Chicago-based HSA Commercial Real Estate and HSA’s acquisition of the Brookfield Fashion Center as other strong signs of the market along Bluemound.
“I do think that, right now, Bluemound Road is, if it’s not already, on its way to becoming the premier commercial retail corridor in the state of Wisconsin,” Ponto said.
Ponto also noted that he is not concerned that The Corners will be detrimental for the city in pulling business away from its own shopping centers.
“I think there’s a range of retail that’s’ been developed and I think overall The Corners will mesh very well. I think the main concern was that (The Corners) would not attract new tenants but have tenants moving from one place on Bluemound to another,” Ponto said. “The most significant tenants are coming from out of the area. Von Maur has a very different approach to retail than Boston Store does, or JC Penney. I think it’s a different experience, which is good to have for people in this area.”
IM Properties vice president of U.S. Operations Robert Gould agreed with Ponto that The Corners has assembled a set of retailers that will offer something new to the area.
“The Corners offers a different type of experience than its competitors. We don’t see The Corners necessarily drawing business from other establishments, but enhancing the offerings available to the community and visitors,” Gould said. “Our mix of first-to-market tenants and growing local favorites, plus our amenities like our apartments and Market Square town center, will hopefully help draw a broader group of shoppers, visitors and future developers to the Brookfield area, which will only benefit the community.”