Beloit's Hendricks Commercial scouts site for first downtown Milwaukee area project

A Beloit real estate firm affiliated with the Hendricks family of ABC Supply Co. fame is in talks to buy land in the Walker's Point neighborhood for what would be its first development in the downtown Milwaukee area, the Milwaukee Business Journal has learned.

Hendricks Commercial Properties LLC is owned by a holding company that was founded by Ken and Diane Hendricks, founders of Beloit's ABC Supply Co. Inc., and now owned by Diane Hendricks. Hendricks Commercial has a portfolio of 12 million square feet of building space, but has not done any projects in downtown Milwaukee, said Rob Gerbitz, president and CEO.

For about two years, Hendricks Commercial it has explored possible investments in the 3rd Ward, Walker's Point and near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus, Gerbitz said.

"The opportunity just hasn't come yet," he said in an interview with the Milwaukee Business Journal. "It's a market that is probably nowhere near where it will be in the next decade. We just think it's an interesting market."

Hendricks Commercial currently is trying to assemble properties in the Walker's Point block southeast of First Street and Pittsburgh Avenue, Gerbitz said. The property is now parking lots and one industrial building at the corner of Pittsburgh and South Barclay Street.

If a deal comes together, Gerbitz said the company could develop a building with "destination" retail on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors, he said. Hendricks Commercial has not gotten to the point where it has locked in the scale of a possible project, he said.

"We'd like to do a mixed-use component," Gerbitz said. "We would do something that is very historic in nature."

Walker's Point has become arguably Milwaukee's hottest development area. Hendricks Commercial is among several developers that are locking down properties in the neighborhood for apartment and commercial developments.

Gerbitz said if the company cannot make a deal come together at First and Pittsburgh, it will continue to pursue other opportunities in the neighborhoods around downtown.

"We can be selective," he said. "We're conservative."

A company registered to Greenfield developer Michael Dilworth owns the eastern segment of the Walker's Point block. That includes the 13,000-square-foot building at Pittsburgh and Barclay, and the parking lot to the south. Those properties are listed for sale with an asking price of almost $4 million, said Steve Anderson, president and CEO of Anderson Commercial Group, Greenfield.

Anderson declined comment on any potential talks regarding the property. Motorcycle maker Royal Enfield North America Ltd. is temporarily occupying the corner building until its permanent home at 226 N. Water St. in the 3rd Ward is completed, Anderson said. That Water Street building is expected to be ready for occupancy in summer, he said.

The corner property at First and Pittsburgh has different owners that have held the land for about 25 years. That owners group about a year ago gained city approval to take over part of the public right-of-way at the street corner for a future development. They proposed a roughly 13,000-square-foot, two-story building with retail that never moved forward.

Click here to read this article in the Milwaukee Business Journal.