A $14.1 million reconstruction of Bluemound Road from Moorland to Barker roads is substantially complete, paving the way for greater economic growth, including the relocation of Willis insurance to an office park on that key corridor, officials said Wednesday.
Gov. Scott Walker and Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto celebrated the "grand reopening" of the three-mile stretch that handles about 50,000 cars daily.
"We’re open for business on Bluemound Road, and that means great things for the future," Walker said.
"A project like this is not just about the flow of traffic through the area," the governor said. "It’s about making it welcoming."
Elected officials and business leaders from the city and town of Brookfield, Waukesha County and state gathered outside the DoubleTree Hotel, 18155 W. Bluemound Rd. Walker's brother, David, is the hotel's banquet manager and lives in the area, while Walker lives off Bluemound Road and North 68th Street in Wauwatosa.
"We know how important it is," Walker said of the corridor.
Willis moves to Executive Drive office
Officials announced Wednesday that Willis North America, one of the largest insurance brokers in Wisconsin, is moving Oct. 29 from its 2323 N. Mayfair Rd. office to a 26,000-square-foot space at 400 N. Executive Dr., right off Bluemound Road.
The eight-year lease with CRP Commericial Services will join about 110 employees on a single floor, "promoting synergy" with staff, said Willis of Wisconsin's managing partner Dale Thoma.
Willis' more than 2,000 national and local insurance clients include the City of Brookfield and Waukesha County, as well as Elmbrook School District, Thoma said in an interview.
Walker and Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto cited Willis and other recent openings along the Bluemound Road corridor, such as 8-twelve MVP Bar & Grill — the recently opened restaurant affiliated with MVPs Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Braun.
"That’s (8-twelve) just one of the many, many amenities, the many new businesses … that have opened up since the beginning of the work on Bluemound Road," Walker said. "And I think many more will come and be drawn to this area because now you have a great access point."
Lights, sidewalks, markings yet to finish
Some access has become more limited, as the project and a previous one involving reconstruction of medians, now requires traffic to make right in, right out movements to access businesses. Fewer left turns and opportunities to cross all lanes of traffic are possible for safety and efficiency.
Steve Schindler, state Department of Transportation project manager, said the final work should be completed by mid-October. Among the work: installation of traffic signals and removal of temporary ones hanging across the intersections, adding cameras and syncing the light timing; finishing sidewalk and grass restoration; and pavement markings.
The timing of the next segment of Bluemound Road reconstruction — from Barker / I-94 west to Manhattan Drive — is yet unknown, Schindler said. It's currently slated for completion sometime between 2014 and 2017.
Since the current reconstruction began last spring, many new retailers and restaurants have opened or are in the works along Bluemound Road, city officials said. They include:
- Buffalo Wild Wings
- Cooper's Hawk
- First Watch
- Jersey Mike's
- Red Robin
New specialty retail
- Red Wing Shoes
- The North Face
- Water 2 Wine
New tenants at Brookfield Lakes, Bishop's Woods, Executive Drive office parks
- Connecture, Inc.
- Peter Schwabe, Inc.
- Advantage Leasing Corporation
- Common Ground Healthcare
- Willis of Wisconsin, Inc.
A new Target store also opened this summer in the new Underwood Crossing complex which is east of the construction. With Target, a Trader Joe's, PNC Bank and other restaurant/ retail is underway there.