Jul 29, 2014

Quilted Basket Moving; Downtown Getting a Facelift

Downtown Menomonee Falls will look a little different this summer, as a number of businesses have taken advantage of a village funding program.

Quilted Basket Moving; Downtown Getting a Facelift

By the end of the summer, if all goes to plan, will move into spacious soon-to-be renovated digs on Appleton Avenue. The project is one of several that will start downtown after receiving a kickstart from a village funding program.

The move would be the third time the business has relocated throughout its 11 years in Menomonee Falls. Quilted Basket currently occupies three combined storefronts at N88W16599 Main St. But before Quilted Basket makes the move, downtown developer Bill Bode will need to prepare their new space.

Bode, president of Brayton Management Co., owns a trio of properties just north of Fire Station 1 that range from N88W16653 to N88W16669 Appleton Ave. These include the former Summit Travel building, a vacant storefront, the Nimble Thimble Alterations and Forget Me Knot Boutique building, and the Spiritual Center & Mystical Gift Shop.

Bode plans to completely remodel the interior and exteriors of the separated three buildings and combine them into one 3,400-square-foot retail space to be occupied by Quilted Basket.

“We’re trying to put together what is now three separate buildings so they will all share cohesive design elements and trim and sign banner treatments,” Bode said. “It will be part of a single composition rather than three completely different facades.”

Ann Wanke, owner of Quilted Basket, said the new space will offer needed room for merchandise and classroom space. Each month Quilted Basket is booked with classes, clubs and other events.

The renovation will reshuffle existing businesses in that location. Janet Adams, who owns Spiritual Center, will vacate her location March 31 and is struggling to find a new location in Menomonee Falls.

“I’m having a really hard time looking for another shop. It’s very hard. We need something like we have now, but we can’t find any,” Adams said. “I love this neighborhood, and I love the people and I would like to stay here. This just came out of nowhere."

Bode disagreed with Adams, and said he gave notice to all tenants before they occupied the building that he couldn’t guarantee long-term occupancy because he had plans to either demolish the site, or renovate it. Bode currently rents the business on a month-to-month basis.

“I made it clear to her from day one that this was going to be coming,” Bode said. “We offered her another location for her that she deemed unacceptable.”

The second pair of businesses, Nimble Thimble and Forget Me Knot, are in the process of moving into their combined location on Main Street.

Bode has invested millions of dollars downtown with significant mixed-use redevelopments on Main Street and Mill Street, and Main Street and Grand Avenue, to name a few.

“I enjoy doing mixed use redevelopment. It’s a trend that’s been emerging over the past couple of decades. People are rediscovering the conveniences and benefits of living in a downtown setting,” Bode said.

It takes a village

Bode will invest about $550,000 in the renovation project, but about $75,000 of his investment is being offset by a grant and loan program initiated by the Department of Community Development to spur redevelopment.

The development department created the Economic Development Master Fund to provide cash flow to businesses to improve their storefronts and build the tax base. The EDMF is designated to businesses in Tax Incremental District 9 which encompasses downtown and businesses north and south along Appleton Avenue.

“Part of the EDMF program is to get a variety of projects going in the downtown area and encourage private investment,” said planning technician Matt Dorner. “It’s about providing a spark that can spill over to other businesses.”

Dorner said momentum is building, and a number of businesses downtown will begin projects this summer after gaining approval by the CDA. Most of the projects involve tuck-pointing, improving awnings replacing windows doors and other improvements.

, The Village Centre BID office, Sal’s Pub and Grill, and glass are among businesses looking to take advantage of the program.

EDMF funded improvements are already occurring at hair salon and .

Village Centre BID Director Barb Watters said she has been promoting the EDMF program throughout downtown, and encouraging businesses to hop on board.

“I think this is a great program — anything to improve the facades of downtown store fronts and bring them up to date,” Watters said. “It’s like giving downtown a facelift.”

The EDMF program allows businesses to take out a maximum $40,000 low-interest loan from the village that is matched dollar-for-dollar by private investment. The money can be used to acquire or improve property, purchase furniture and equipment, or rent and interest write-downs.

The EDMF program also provides 50/50 matching grant of up to $20,000 for landscaping, interior and exterior renovations and qualified site work.

“Menomonee Falls has been aggressive and proactive,” Bode said. “It is a great community to work with in terms of partnering to create this type of redevelopment project.”

All funding for projects must be applied for and approved by the CDA, and the business must demonstrate the community benefit of the project. To obtain information on the EDMF plan and applications, visit www.menomonee-falls.org.

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