INSIGHT ON: Commercial Real Estate – After the recession: Rebirth

Posted on Sep 5, 2013 :: Commercial Real Estate , Insight On
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Four investors recently purchased the commercial space at Richmond Terrace, Appleton. The 30,000-square-foot space, which is essentially new since it has not been occupied since the building was constructed, can be separated into four smaller spaces. Red Shoes PR is the first tenant to sign a lease. Photo courtesy of Dave Allen

After nine years, the commercial real estate space at Richmond Terrace in downtown Appleton is finding new life under new owners. The commercial space will have its first tenant, Red Shoes PR, this fall and is actively recruiting other businesses to locate in the building.

Built in 2004, the building fell into receivership a couple of years later. While the residential condos on the property were purchased, the site’s commercial space remained empty.

Now that the economy is turning around, this commercial project and other developments throughout the region that have lingered on the back burner are now moving forward.

“There are a lot of properties that sat empty that are now finding tenants. People are starting to spend money and invest in real estate again. There are deals to be had,” says Mike Pfefferle, president of Newmark Grubb Pfefferle in Appleton. His firm recently filled an empty Wausau Papers facility in Appleton with a cold storage facility.


Timing finally right for Richmond Terrace project

As for the commercial space at 400 N. Richmond St., the timing was ideal to invest in the property and move the project forward, says Dave Allen, a lead partner in the project along with Scott DeWitt. Those two investors were joined by Jacci Konkle (Allen, DeWitt and Konkle are all with DeWitt Londre Real Estate) and a silent fourth partner in purchasing 30,000 square feet of commercial space, with four separate condominium units dedicated to retail and office space. The investors, as well as the Richmond Terrace condo owners’ association, want to rename the commercial space “400 North.”

“I had showed the property for a couple of years to a wide variety of people and was very familiar with it and its amenities,” Allen says. “Then, the former owners decided that since all of the condo units were sold, they wanted out of their investment here in Appleton and wanted to sell the commercial side.

“I saw purchasing the site as a good investment. Our goal is to allow Richmond Terrace to fulfill its original use and potential as a great mixed-used site in the community.”

Landing Red Shoes PR as a tenant is just the start, Allen says.

“The building is a couple of years old, but it’s a new space. There’s onsite parking and we can work with tenants to meet their needs,” he says, adding that the lighting, plumbing and interior walls were never finished, which offer a lot of opportunities for potential tenants.

The space facing Richmond Street is ideally suited for a restaurant, fitness facility or other businesses interested in the location’s high visibility, Allen says. Other parts of the site are perfect for offices or other small businesses.

One business Allen hopes to land is a small coffee shop or deli. “That’s something the 200 people living at Richmond Terrace have asked for,” he says. “They want a place to go where they can have a cup of coffee or sandwich and relax. We think there is a lot of opportunity there.”

Another amenity residents have asked for, along with other people living downtown, is a grocery store. So far, there’s no interest from national chains, but Allen remains optimistic that a local entrepreneur may either move a current business there or start up a small grocery with perhaps a coffee shop attached.


Brewing action at Larsen Cannery

In downtown Green Bay, a vacant manufacturing facility is also seeing new life after years of going unused. The Larsen Cannery, where manufacturing stopped in the 1990s and has sat vacant since the mid-2000s, will soon house an expansion for Titletown Brewery and apartments.

In late July, the Green Bay City Council approved a plan to allow Titletown to use a portion of the site for its beer canning facility, which

will be relocated from its nearby popular restaurant, and a tasting room. That move will then allow more room in the restaurant for eating and retail space to sell the brewery’s popular products.

Titletown is working with SMET Construction on the project.

“Just as the master plan for this site was approved back in the 2000s, the economic downturn hit and none of the plans panned out because of financing or other problems,” says Christopher Naumann, executive director for On Broadway Inc.,

which has owned the property since 2006 and worked to clean out the facility to prepare it for new development. “But with Titletown, this is very exciting since it not only saves the historic buildings, which was key for us, but it’s also a local business expanding. Titletown is all set on their financing and should be able to start work this fall and be ready to open next year.”

Once the Titletown project gets moving, Naumann expects the second half of the project, residential housing, to move forward. Madison developer T. Wall has expressed interest in using about half the site for warehouse-style apartments and is working on a design plan.

“There is a lot of demand in downtown Green Bay for housing and we feel that what is being proposed will be a good fit,” Naumann says.