Brennan's property eyed for redevelopment

The 1.1-acre lot at the corner of University and Capital avenues had been home to a Brennan's Market for 47 years until its closing in September. A developer has announced plans to build a $10 million to $12 million mixed-use building with 52 apartments and 8,100-square-feet of retail.

Just weeks after closing its doors, the former Brennan’s Market on the city’s Far West Side is being eyed for a mixed-use development.

Realm Real Estate Development of Sun Prairie has submitted plans with the city of Madison to construct a four-story building with 52 apartments and 8,100 square feet of retail at the corner of Capital and University avenues. Brennan’s had occupied the site for 47 years until it closed in September along with four other Brennan’s locations in southern Wisconsin.

Martin O’Connor, who is proposing the project along with business partner Jerry Connery, said the site is ideal for housing and retail, and will add to other development that has either happened or is planned for the University Avenue corridor.

“It’s a great location and it’s a larger site on University Avenue,” O’Connor said. “The stoplights on Capital Avenue make it much more user-friendly.”

There will be a presentation on the development plan at a public meeting for the Spring Harbor Neighborhood Association at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Dale Heights Presbyterian Church, 5501 University Ave., which is next to the proposed 1.1-acre development site. O’Connor said he would like to break ground on the project next summer and open the building in summer 2019.

Projects in recent years along the University Avenue corridor have included Hilldale Shopping Center and The Lodge at Walnut Grove Apartments; a $150 million, nine-story, 600,000-square-foot office building and $36 million parking garage for the state at Hill Farms at Segoe Road; and University Row Apartments and a UW Health Digestive Health Center at Whitney Way.

Planned projects include housing, a hotel, retail, office and restaurants at Hill Farms and the redevelopment of the site that for years was home to a Perkin’s Restaurant.

The plan from Realm would include a mix of efficiency, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with rents comparable to those at The Lodge and University Row, O’Connor said. Apartments on the fourth floor, which would be set back, and possibly the third would have views of nearby Lake Mendota while a basement parking garage would have 51 stalls to go with 38 surface parking stalls. The retail offerings could include a coffee shop but no other tenants or types of uses have yet been identified for the first floor.

“There is a lot of interest and there’s quite a few people that we’re working with,” O’Connor said. “We’re trying to make it a good mix for the neighborhood.”

O’Connor and Connery have been working together to develop senior housing projects, including a 65-unit development scheduled to open this week in Waunakee. Connery is a longtime developer who is behind the Shoppes at Prairie Lakes, a massive retail and office development in Sun Prairie that includes Cabela’s, Target, Costco and a Marcus Palace Cinema. A 124-room Hilton Garden Inn and a Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse are under construction and Menards is under construction nearby.

Aaron Crandall, president of the Spring Harbor Neighborhood Association, said the plans for the property look to be “a good start of a proposal” but he is hopeful that Realm will work with neighbors on concerns that include traffic, green space and the overall size of the project.

“I think it may be a good fit and I’ll be interested to see how a development like this may change our neighborhood, hopefully for the better,” Crandall said. “It’s always difficult to predict how something new like this proposal will impact the neighborhood, and I guess I do see opportunities with this proposal if it’s implemented well and is a success in attracting commercial occupants that the neighborhood residents would desire.”


Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.