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WAUKESHA, WI-Opus North Corp., of Chicago, has opened the first phase of its $62 million The Shoppes at Fox River retail development at 1200 W. Sunset Dr. The first phase of 250,000 square feet opened at about 90% leased, with a second phase of construction planned to begin in spring and deliver another 250,000 square feet of space by summer 2011. Two of the development’s anchor tenants, a 132,000-square-foot Target and a 60,000-square-foot Pick ‘n Save grocery store, have already opened, and another eight stores are scheduled to open later this fall.

“It’s a great first-tier suburban infill location,” John Meyers, VP of retail development for Opus, tells GlobeSt.com. “Waukesha is a great suburban community, and this is a portion of town that didn’t have a retail shopping area and we’re able to take advantage of that. For retailers, from a strategic standpoint with where their other stores were located, this was a great infill location for them without a lot of retail immediately around it, so there was a market void and they were available to take advantage of it.”

Other retailers scheduled to open within phase one this fall include a 14,000-square-foot CVS Pharamacy on a 1.9-acre outlot, a 5,000-square-foot Chili’s restaurant on a 1.3-acre outlot, Buffalo Wild Wings, Subway, GNC, Verizon, GameStop and Noodles & Company. Openings scheduled for spring include a 13,500-square-foot PETCO, as well as a Maurice’s and Famous Footwear. Asking lease rates at the development range from $13 to $35 per square foot net, depending on location.

“There’s very few uncommitted spaces at this point and in today’s marketplace, that’s phenomenal,” Meyers says. “The site itself was well-positioned and had some momentum going in, so we focused on the first phase of the development, which was still feasible to do. Even in a difficult time, we continued to get national tenants and hang onto that momentum as long as we held onto the boundaries of what the market could support.”

Work on the 54-acre property began in summer 2008, after Opus acquired it for more than $11 million, demolished the 561,000-square-foot distribution center once located there and changed the land’s zoning. About 18 acres remain available remain available for development and Meyers said Opus is considered build-to-suit opportunities or selling pad sites for retailers interested in locating within the development. Michael Fitzgerald and Dan Rosenfeld of Mid-America Real Estate-Wisconsin are marketing space within the development.

When completed, Opus says the retail development will be the largest in Waukesha and the sixth largest in the Milwaukee area. Designed by Minneapolis-based KKE Architects, the project is located in the southwest suburban Milwaukee submarket. “The Waukesha marketplace has remained very viable and held up very well there,” Meyers says.

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