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New Berlin gets down to business again

Projects and inquiries are up this year

May 7, 2012

New Berlin - With big projects ready for construction and others becoming prospective possibilities, business is picking up in New Berlin this year, officials said.

Several have already crowded their way through city channels for approval and will begin to take shape this summer.

Froedtert Health Inc. will build a 137,000-square-foot medical office building at 4805 S. Moorland Road, to employ about 250 people. Construction is expected to be finished by October 2013.

The Zilber Property Group is proposing a 54,155-square-foot single- or multi-tenant industrial speculative building at 16235 W. Beloit Road. Construction is anticipated to be complete this year or early next year.

The Plan Commission approved a 44,666-square-foot addition that would about double the size of Sumitomo Electric, 5635 S. Westridge Drive. The company plans to add up to 100 employees by 2017.

A 24-unit community-based residential facility at 13705 W. Fieldpointe Drive, to be part of Linden Grove nursing home, has also been approved. The addition will serve people with dementia. Construction is anticipated to be complete by spring of 2013.

Prospective progress

But those projects are only part of the picture, said Greg Kessler, director of community development.

"All signs point to the fact that we are seeing an uptick in activity and inquiry," Kessler said.

Might it be the kind of year that would have been normal before the economy foundered? Time will tell how many new ideas take root, but what's already happened is a good start, he said.

"In terms of new construction, it will be a little better than for two years, but inquiries are a lot better than normal," Kessler said. "But whether that translates into actual applications, we don't know."

He added that the development staff is meeting with a lot more prospective developers these days - and they are not interested in subdivisions but in business growth.

Indicators show a positive outlook in business park growth for the entire area, Kessler said, and New Berlin is part of that.

The New Berlin Business Park is considered a submarket of the Milwaukee metropolitan area industrial market, which has vacancy rates that are back at pre-recession levels, according to the city.

In addition, a recent survey of the business park the assessor's office conducted indicated a vacancy rate of 6 percent for the fourth quarter last year.

Up on the farm

While there are inquires about opportunities all over the city, a lot of people are keeping their eye on a large tract of farmland known as section 35.

The fact that section 35 will have sewer and water by the end of the year is a major development stimulus for the nearly half that is planned for business park and industrial, Kessler said.

"Under this mayor's leadership, this is without a doubt one of the major development initiatives in years," he said.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

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