Menomonee Falls fishing for Bass Pro as retail anchor

Published on: 1/20/2010

I reported Friday that Menomonee Falls is trying to land a 130,000-square-foot "destination retailer" that would locate south of Highway 45, and west of Pilgrim Road.

Some readers have speculated that the retailer, whom Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald wouldn't identify, is Springfield, Mo.-based Bass Pro Shops.

That appears to be correct, according to one commercial real estate source.That source, who spoke only on the condition that he not be identified, said village officials said a year ago that Bass Pro was interested in the site.

Gary Morris, Bass Pro's director of real estate, said the retail chain wants to be in most major markets, including the Milwaukee area. But he referred questions about the site to Larry Whiteley, the company's communications director.

"One of our goals is to have a store in Wisconsin," Whiteley told me. But he said the chain currently has nothing to announce about the Milwaukee area.

Bass Pro sells gear and clothing for fishing, hunting and camping. The stores are typically 150,000 to 170,000 square feet, Whiteley said, and draw customers from a wide radius.

Bass Pro is similar to Cabela's, an outdoor gear and clothing chain that in 2006 opened a 165,000-square-foot destination store in Richfield. Cabela's is located just west of the Highway 45-Highway 41 split, about a 15-minute drive from the possible Bass Pro site.

The Menomonee Falls Village Board on Monday approved a plan that would pave the way for tax incremental financing to be used in helping pay for the development, which would include demolishing and doing environmental cleanup of the former Stolper/Western Industries facility.

Under that plan, village funds used to help finance the development would be paid back by property taxes generated by Bass Pro and other projects. The 80-acre area, generally bordered by Highway 45, Roosevelt Drive, Pilgrim Road and Water St., would include 40 acres of retail development, anchored by Bass Pro.

Any specific plans to help fund the development would require additional future approval by the Village Board.

Bass Pro's newest store opened near Des Moines, Iowa, in August. The company has since delayed plans to open additional stores until the economy recovers. It usually takes about a year to build a Bass Pro store, Whiteley said.

I'll have a more detailed story later at JSOnline.com, and in Thursday's Journal Sentinel.