More progress at Mammoth Springs in Sussex
Village of Sussex — Mammoth Springs developer Art Sawall anticipates that by spring of next year two more apartment buildings will be open at the residential/commercial development being constructed at the corner of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue.
However, Sawall said he is not sure when construction will begin on two retail/commercial buildings intended to complement the five 30-unit high end apartment buildings slated for construction.
The initial two apartment buildings are completed and are about 90 to 95 percent occupied, according to Sawall.
Construction has began on the third and fourth apartment buildings, he said. Sawall anticipates the third building will be available for occupancy in April of 2015 and the fourth building will open in May.
In addition to the five apartment buildings on the south side of Main Street, Sawall said a marketing survey he recently commissioned indicated there is a demand for high end apartments in the village and additional apartment buildings could be constructed across the street from Mammoth Springs, on the south side of Main Street.
However, so far, Sawall's negotiations to purchase existing buildings on the south side of the street have been unsuccessful.
Sawall acknowledged he is "absolutely surprised" that, so far, there has been little commercial tenant interest in his plans to build two commercial/retail buildings, each about 6,500 square feet, to complement the anticipated 150 apartment units.
"I thought with the apartments and the existing commercial buildings at the intersection, Boneyards (restaurant) and Rumors (sports bar and grill), there would be more interest," he said.
"Usually, if you build it, they will come. There is more interest when there is construction going on. But, the banks won't do it that way anymore. And, I can't blame them," Sawall added.
Sawall began construction on the $21 million project in March 2013, two years after spending a reported $750,000 to purchase the approximately 10-acre tract of land on the east edge of the village that was once the site of a cannery company.
A Bug Line in the ointment
Before beginning the construction, he had to work his way through a labyrinth of local, state and federal bureaucracies in order to relocate the Waukesha County Bug Line Recreational Trail. When he purchased the land, the trail ran through the center of the property. He gained approvals necessary to reroute the trail around his development.
For nearly two decades, village officials had been seeking a developer with the financial backing and bureaucratic management skills to put together a redevelopment package at the site.
Sawall is the son of German immigrants who were in a Soviet labor camp when he was born. The Sawalls were released from prison in the mid 1960s and moved to Milwaukee in 1967.
Sawall graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwuakee with a degree in electrical engineering. He later started a small business that specialized in the use of a computer software system that enabled electrical engineers to download schematic electrical designs for construction projects onto a computer.
He later sold the company and became interested in real estate development. He discovered the Mammoth Springs Cannery site while talking to a real estate agent about another parcel of land he had spotted on Craigslist.
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