Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Why Another Downtown Grocery Store?

Location, density and growth are key drivers of new store.

By - Sep 6th, 2018 02:40 pm
7Seventy7 Apartment Tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

7Seventy7 Apartment Tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A new grocery store will soon join the competitive downtown Milwaukee grocery market.

Jeff Maurer will open Urban Market in the base of Northwestern Mutual‘s new 35-story apartment tower 7Seventy7.

The store will immediately become the closest option for residents of the 310 apartments in the building, as well as tenants of downtown’s biggest office buildings including the US Bank Center and Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons.

Despite three grocery stores being within a mile, Maurer sees the 7Seventy7 site located on the 600 block of E. Mason St. as well located. “The location is good now and will be better as more density comes,” said Maurer in an interview. The grocery industry veteran operates a similar store on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, and envisions most of the clientele will come on foot or by bicycle.

With a successful urban store in Madison, and two traditional supermarkets in Janesville and Wisconsin Dells, why did Maurer choose downtown Milwaukee for his next store? “As time went by, I heard more about the Milwaukee downtown area and how similar it is to what I’ve seen in Madison, and how they’re adding density, adding more people to live downtown, and the generational shift of people wanting to live downtown. I found the space and Northwestern Mutual coincidentally reached out to me at the same time,” Maurer said of the year-long process to get to Wednesday’s announcement.

At only 10,500 square feet, the store won’t have nearly the selection as the larger Metro Market (53,000 square feet) just up N. Van Buren St. It will also be smaller than the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market store at the north end of downtown, which city documents indicate has 29,000 square feet of space.

But Maurer isn’t intending to compete by having a wide variety of cereal brands on the shelves. His target is “that day or the next day” shoppers. “Hopefully we will see those customers frequently throughout the week,” Maurer said. The store will be centered around a scratch-made deli, which Maurer describes as “very fresh and very affordable.”

Without elaborating, the grocer added; “you will see some different things that haven’t been done in the market before that I’m not going to talk about.” He did tell Urban Milwaukee that the store intends to provide catering and online ordering.

Urban Market will also activate what could have easily been a dead zone along E. Mason St. The new store sits not only at the base of the apartment tower, but below a 1,400-stall parking garage. Despite being overwhelmed from above, the store should be quite visible. The entire first-floor facade along E. Mason St. and much of N. Jackson St. has tall, floor-to-ceiling windows.

The store will be open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with slightly reduced hours on weekends.

With a building boom still underway downtown, Maurer doesn’t see this as the last store he will consider in the heart of the city. “There is more potential, depending on the development of downtown, as more apartments come online, as more people move downtown, especially on the other side of the river, I see that as potential.” A Westown grocery store has been a long-sought amenity, with both the Milwaukee Bucks real estate affiliate and the Shops of Grand Avenue redevelopment team announcing their intent to bring a grocery store to their respective projects.

For more on the 7Seventy7 luxury apartment tower, which includes an incredible array of amenities, see our article on its opening.

7Seventy7 Photos

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