May 03. 2012 3:00PM - Last modified: May 03. 2012 3:35PM

Delphi site will be Oak Creek’s new downtown

The plans for the redevelopment of the 85-acre former Delphi plant site southwest of Howell Avenue and Drexel Avenue in Oak Creek will be unveiled Friday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Interstate 94 Drexel Interchange project.

The Delphi plant closed in 2008 and is now a large vacant lot. Wispark LLC, the real estate development arm of Wisconsin Energy Corp., is working with the City of Oak Creek on a redevelopment project for the site.
The eastern third of the site will feature junior box retail stores (about 20,000 to 40,000 square feet each) and some outlot retail development, said Wispark president Jerry Franke.
The middle third of the site will have a “Main Street,” lined with multi-story buildings with retail on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors. A Town Square on the Main Street could be a community gathering place and it used for ice skating in the winter and farmers’ markets in warmer months, Franke said. The Main Street area will also be the site of the city’s new library and city hall.
The western third of the site will have “Third Ward” style apartment buildings, Franke said.
“We’re hoping to attract young professionals working on the south side by offering them something different,” he said.
The residential component of the development could also include an assisted living building, Franke said.
The entire development, which will be called Drexel Town Square, consists of 880,000 square feet of space, including 255,000 square feet of retail space, 70,000 square feet of civic space (for the library and City Hall) and 555,000 square feet of residential space, Franke said.
City officials hope the development will create a downtown area that is a community center and gathering place, which Oak Creek currently lacks. They hope the retailers in the development will serve residents of the development and the rest of the community and could include restaurants and a health club.
“We’re really trying to make this a town center more like what downtowns used to be.” Franke said.
“We believe the plan we’ve got here represents the consensus of the community for place making, to create a place (in the city) that doesn’t exist right now,” said City Administrator Gerald Peterson. “A place you can drive to and then park and walk around and take advantage of multiple services.”
Wispark plans to market the project to retailers at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) convention in Las Vegas later this month.
“This is going to be our first foray of marketing this concept,” Franke said. “If we need to make adjustments, we will.”