Kohl’s Downtown Store Is Test of Smaller Format
CEO promises data-driven approach to deliver everything customers love about Kohl's.
Come fall 2023, you’ll be able to spend your Kohl’s cash in downtown Milwaukee.
The Menomonee Falls-based retailer is opening a small format, 40,000-square-foot store in the former Boston Store space on the corner of W. Wisconsin Ave. and N. Vel R. Phillips Ave.
“As mayor of Milwaukee, I am excited to welcome the iconic brand to downtown Milwaukee,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson. “Kohl’s will have a presence on the main street in the state of Wisconsin.”
It’s part of a plan from the retailer to open 100 smaller stores. It’s current stores are approximately 80,000 square feet each, often colocated with malls or in suburban shopping centers.
“We are going to be looking to build out in urban, suburban and rural [locations],” said Gass. “What we are doing here today is part of our growth strategy.”
The company’s effective promotional strategy named like a corporate currency, is a store credit earned through purchases from the national department store.
But will Kohl’s move any office jobs to downtown Milwaukee? The company is moving into a building that was both the corporate headquarters of Boston Store parent Bon-Ton and a department store.
“Our home is still in Menomonee Falls,” said Gass, who noted the company also has an office in New York City and satellite information technology offices.
So no downtown office, at least for now.
Gass declined to answer questions about the potential acquisition of the retailer.
Earlier this month, Kohl’s ended acquisition talks with Franchise Group. But the company is still considered a likely acquisition target. Franchise Group was expected to finance a large part of its acquisition by selling the underlying real estate associated with many of the Kohl’s department stores.
North Wells planned to strategically redevelop the former Boston Store Building, but that work was expedited when Bon-Ton went from downsizing to liquidation. In 2021, the company gutted and rehabbed each of the former Bon-Ton floors. The approximately 232,000 square feet of space on the upper floors, including the former second level of the Boston Store, are now designed to house office tenants, while the 66,125-square-foot first floor is reserved for commercial tenants. New common spaces were developed and a portion of the parking structure was converted to a rooftop deck.
The new owner, working with Founders 3, has successfully attracted North Shore Healthcare, Eight Eleven Group and Abacus Architects to the building. Engberg Anderson Architects and Kelly Construction & Design led the design and construction on the redevelopment.
The building is directly attached to The Avenue, the redeveloped Shops of Grand Avenue mall. It stretches between W. Wisconsin Ave. and W. Michigan St. along N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. (the former N. 4th St.).
Much of the $1.9 million tax incremental financing subsidy once intended to keep Bon-Ton in Downtown remains in city control. City officials confirmed Friday that there were no discussions of subsidizing the new store without any office jobs. A portion of the subsidy was previously spent on demolition by North Wells to prepare the building for future tenants.
Johnson noted that shoppers at the store would find a revitalized neighborhood, including The Avenue, Bradley Symphony Center, bus rapid transit line, potential streetcar extension and planned Vel R. Phillips Plaza.
“I want to thank Kohl’s for believing in the city of Milwaukee,” said Johnson.
The mayor and CEO were joined at the announcement by Department of City Development Commissioner Lafayette Crump, area Alderman Robert Bauman, representatives of North Wells Capital and Kohl’s associates.
Photos and Renderings
HUB640 Redevelopment Photos
Former Boston Store
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Political Contributions Tracker
Displaying political contributions between people mentioned in this story. Learn more.
- April 22, 2019 - Cavalier Johnson received $50 from Lafayette Crump
- February 20, 2016 - Cavalier Johnson received $250 from Robert Bauman
- October 15, 2014 - Robert Bauman received $100 from Lafayette Crump
- September 8, 2014 - Robert Bauman received $100 from Lafayette Crump
2 thoughts on “Kohl’s Downtown Store Is Test of Smaller Format”
Gre@t news, of course, but the Kohl’s brand almost everywhere is over the top. Wishful thinking… Give ‘em the ground floor and have them work for the rest.
Frankly, my own wishful thinking around all this was that the store was a teaser for a bigger announcement that Kohl’s would be relocating at least it’s Innovation Center to HUB 640, the 4th and Wisconsin lot, or 310W.
Hopes dashed, again…