Bayshore looks to stay fresh with next development phase

Michael Sears
Mall operators are discussing plans for the next phase of development at Bayshore Town Center, which opened in Glendale in 2006.
Published on: 2/16/2013

Bayshore Town Center opened in November 2006, replacing Glendale's former Bayshore Mall with dozens of new stores, restaurants, offices and apartments, creating the first such town-center-style development in southeastern Wisconsin.

Now, plans are being discussed on the next development phase at Bayshore. They include additional apartments, along with new retailers to replace one of the town center's anchors - Sears - once its lease expires in a few years.

There's no specific schedule for when those things might happen, said David Moss, who in July became Bayshore Town Center's general manager. In the short term, Moss is focused on landing new retailers, part of the ongoing job of keeping Bayshore relevant as shopping and dining tastes change.

"Who is sexy in 2006, and who is sexy now?" Moss said.

The former list includes women's clothing retailer Coldwater Creek, which closed its Bayshore store about two weeks after Christmas. It's being replaced this spring by Express, which sells both men's and women's apparel, and has been the most heavily requested store by Bayshore shoppers, Moss said.

Other retailers opening at Bayshore within the past year include Soma Intimates, upscale women's fashion boutique Hot Mama and La Coppa Gelato. Moss hopes to announce other new tenants soon.

Bayshore's 1 million square feet of store and restaurant space is 95% occupied, Moss said. The upper level office space, totaling 215,000 square feet and including larger tenants such as Bryant & Stratton College and Guaranty Bank, is 89% occupied. The 113 apartments are 98% occupied.

Bayshore is owned by an investors group led by New York-based Mall Properties Inc., which doesn't disclose the mall's sales figures. Bayshore's estimated 2012 sales increased by 2.5% to 3% over last year, Moss said.

Bayshore had 17.7 million visitors last year, Moss said, an estimate based on sensors that count cars entering the mall. That was a 1% increase from 2011.

"2012 was a good year," he said.

Meanwhile, the demand for apartments remains strong. Bayshore, at Silver Spring Drive and Port Washington Road, just east of I-43, has attracted apartment residents who work throughout the Milwaukee area, and Glendale officials hope to soon see progress on long-delayed plans to develop housing units on the town center's eastern edge.

Those apartments, which could later be converted into condos, would be built along N. Lydell Ave., north of the Lydell Ave. parking structure's entrance, said Richard Maslowski, city administrator. The original plan was to build 60 to 80 condos, but that was delayed when the housing market collapsed not long after the town center opened, he said.

Waiting on Sears

The bigger development issue involves the fate of Sears, which anchors Bayshore's northern portion.

Along with the Boston Store and Kohl's anchor department stores, Sears remained at Bayshore throughout work that remodeled part of the old mall, while adding several new buildings and parking structures.

Kohl's Corp. is profitable, and Boston Store corporate parent Bon Ton Stores Inc. has been reducing its losses while building its sales.

But Sears Holdings Corp., formed through the 2005 merger of Sears and Kmart, remains unprofitable as its sales continue to drop and stores close. The portion of Bayshore closest to Sears includes some of the mall's more marginal tenants.

"They do nothing for the mall," said John Melaniphy, who operates Melaniphy & Associates Inc., a Chicago-based retail industry consulting firm. "Obviously, if you get rid of Sears, you can do some interesting things."

The Sears lease at Bayshore expires at the end of 2016, according to documents filed in a 2004 lawsuit between the retail chain and the mall, which was later settled. The Bayshore Sears does well with selling appliances and with its automotive repair business, but it is otherwise "not a high-performing store," Maslowski said.

The mall's owners, which include Dallas-based Corrigan Properties and Columbus, Ohio-based Steiner and Associates, "have no intention" of renewing the Sears lease, Maslowski said. Instead, that 117,000-square-foot building will likely be demolished, with new retail space built in its place, he said.

"The mall's owners are actively looking at different options that would be a plus for Bayshore and the North Shore," Maslowski said, while declining to provide any details.

Moss declined to comment on the Bayshore store's future. Sears Holdings spokesman Howard Riefs declined to comment beyond saying the company "values its presence" at Bayshore, and remains committed to serving its Milwaukee-area customers.

Lost opportunity

The November announcement that Nordstrom Inc. will open its first Wisconsin department store at Mayfair, in Wauwatosa, was a lost opportunity for Bayshore and Glendale to replace Sears, Melaniphy said.

He said Nordstrom executives had considered Bayshore years ago when the mall's redevelopment plans were being created. But Sears didn't respond to Bayshore's requests to negotiate a buyout of the retailer's lease, Melaniphy said.

Moss, however, said Nordstrom's planned fall 2015 opening at Mayfair will help the entire area by attracting retailers that otherwise wouldn't consider the Milwaukee area.

Glendale has a big stake in Bayshore's future.

The city has spent $84 million, which includes interest costs, to help finance the town center's development through a tax incremental financing district that covers Bayshore, Maslowski said. Those funds, which paid for parking structures, street improvements and other expenses, are being repaid through property taxes generated by the improved portions of the tax financing district.

The tax financing district's assessed value is $305 million, and the city's debt will be repaid by about 2024, Maslowski said. Once that debt is paid off, the property taxes on the improved portions of Bayshore go to the city, its school district and other local governments.

City officials are "anxiously awaiting" updated development plans for Bayshore, Maslowski said.

Moss is working on more immediate ways to improve the property.

During the past holiday shopping season, the town center put up extra signs to direct visitors to parking ramps, and also doubled the security force on the Saturday before Christmas to handle increased traffic.

On that day, Bayshore visitors drove an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 cars to the town center, compared with 30,000 cars on the average Saturday. The mall managed the traffic without causing cars to back up onto Port Washington Road and Silver Spring Drive, Moss said.

Bayshore also continues to function as Glendale's downtown, hosting community events at its indoor rotunda and outdoor public square. Meanwhile, the mall's owners have donated over $1.25 million to area charities through money collected from its street parking meters and fines for overdue street parking, Moss said.