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Owner does a Faire amount of redeveloping

Building's upgrade is part of a two-phase plan

June 28, 2010

West Allis — Sitting on the border of Milwaukee and West Allis on 60th Street is what used to be a Sam's Club, a building that has been a vacant eyesore for several years.

Now known as the Renaissance Faire building at 801 S. 60th St., the site hasn't been what city officials had in mind for drivers' first impression of West Allis.

But the building will soon undergo a major facelift as part of a two-phased redevelopment project. And West Allis officials hope, by the time the changes are completed, that the building stands as a gateway feature to the city.

The first phase - a renovation predominantly of the building's southwestern corner - should begin this summer, Development Director John Stibal said.

The second phase of the project will involve the development of the area between 60th Street and the Renaissance Faire, which could mean construction of new businesses, such as a drive-through bank, Stibal said.

The West Allis Plan Commission approved the first phase last week. Van Buren Management has another year to submit formal plans for the remainder of the property.

What's in store, or office

No tenants have been proposed or identified yet. Because the building is zoned for manufacturing, a wide range of uses, including office and commercial possibilities, is allowed.

Stibal said he expects the building could compete with the Whitnall Summit office complex, 6737 W. Washington St.

"Putting the new façade up will be a dramatic improvement," he said.

Rod Rinzel of Van Buren Management, which manages the 140,000-square-foot building, said the company is pursuing tenants but mainly focusing on completing the renovation and landscaping work for now.

Aided by tax credits

The redevelopment project was made possible through $8 million in federal New Market Tax Credits.

City officials approached the Renaissance Faire owners about using the tax credits to help finance the new façade and improve facility access, which in turn would help attract a tenant, Stibal said.

The money is part of $70 million in tax credits awarded to the First-Ring Industrial Redevelopment Enterprises, or FIRE, a West Allis-created organization with the goal of financing mixed-use developments and business expansions throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

In the past, New Market Tax Credits have been used in the Milwaukee area to attract investors to projects such as the Lena's Food Market chain and the Iron Horse Hotel near the Harley-Davidson Museum.

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