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Brookfield developer to buy former Drew's Variety & Craft building

Nov. 18, 2009

Developer Richard Conley is planning to purchase the building that formerly housed Drew's Variety & Craft.

Conley, owner of Brookfield-based Metropolitan Development, has an accepted offer to purchase the site, 7505 Harwood Ave. It offers 9,000 square feet of retail space with five one-bedroom apartments above.

Now he's checking out the structural integrity and utilities and trying to determine how he will use the building.

"I'm mapping out scenarios," he said. "We'd been looking into it and we're not quite sure what to do with it."

Retail, office and residential are all possibilities, all of which would require significant interior and exterior renovations, Conley said.

Much will hinge on whether Harwood Avenue was opened to two-way traffic, an issue Village Business Improvement District representatives have been discussing with city officials. He said it would increase vehicle traffic and reduce foot traffic to businesses on Harwood.

"I clearly wouldn't want to buy the building if this progresses," Conley said.

Conley is no stranger to Wauwatosa development. He owns several buildings, including Lefeber Point, where Noodles & Co. is located, within the Village.

He said frequent drives past to the Drew's building led him to pursue ownership.

"I know what it could be, I saw what its potential is," he said.

The building has been vacant since January 2008.

He did not have an expected date to finalize the sale.

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