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Firestone considers service center at Burleigh and 123rd

March 9, 2011

Firestone wants to open an auto service center at Burleigh Square.

Real estate development firm Continental Properties has tried for more than a year to sell a single, large lot at 123rd and Burleigh streets. Drugstore chains were targeted because of the parcel size, but there were no takers, Development Director Eric Thom said.

Mayor Jill Didier pointed out that a Walgreen's had shown interest a few years ago, but the Common Council would not support a 24-hour operation so the project was dropped.

Splitting the site into two smaller parcels - Firestone would take up about 7,500 square feet - would allow development on the site and make the remainder of the property marketable to a larger variety of uses, Thom said. In the meantime, the vacant portion would remain a grassy area.

With people holding onto their cars longer these days, Firestone has seen success, said John Burkemper, architect for the project. He has designed more than 30 similar facilities located throughout the Midwest, including one in West Milwaukee.

The Plan Commission on Monday unanimously supported the project, but some said auto repair was not a use they had wanted to see come to the area. They also deemed the design "lackluster," but Thom said improvements were being made at the request of the city's Design Review Board.

Community Development Director Nancy Welch put the changes in perspective, citing the challenges the firm has had redeveloping this former Briggs & Stratton property. Continental Properties has invested in innovative stormwater management features such as extensive rain gardens and bioswales. She called it the city's first green commercial project.

"While this portion of the site looks like the minimum, they have worked hard to improve the entire site," Didier said.

The council will vote on the land division and site use March 15.

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