2017 Empty Storefronts Conference presented by NAIOP

Monday, November 6, 2017 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM ACE Hardware Building MapMap
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Speaker Bios
2016 Recap


NAIOP, WI the Commercial Real Estate Development Association and NEWaukee present the 3rd Empty Storefronts Conference, a day-long conference that focuses on holistic solutions, national trends, best practices, and success stories that lead to action plans and spark ideas to fill empty storefronts.

The Empty Storefronts Conference features national and local speakers that have implemented practices and tactics in their own communities and across the country to address vacant storefronts. The Empty Storefronts Conference is hosted in different empty storefronts and neighborhoods around Milwaukee, WI.


Check out the 2015 Empty Storefronts Conference hosted in Milwaukee!

2017 Sponsorships still available! Put yourself in front of leading professionals from the creative, economic development, commercial real estate and development industries.  Check out these opportunities! Please contact Jim Villa, Chief Executive Officer, NAIOP Wisconsin, Ph: 414.870.1873 E: jim@naiop-wi.org


The Main Location: Old National ACE Hardware

8:30 – 9:00AM – Registration / Complimentary Breakfast / Coffee Social / Networking

9:00 – 9:15am – Opening Remarks
– Jeremy Fojut | Chief Idea Officer, NEWaukee
– Jim Villa | CEO, NAIOP Wisconsin

9:15 – 9:45AM – Opening Keynote
“From Empty Storefronts to Vibrant Developments – How do we get there?” | Swasti Shah, Urban Land Institute

9:45 – 12:30PM – Multiple Presentations
– “Creative Redevelopment of Retail: Driving the Highest and Best Use for Underutilized Real Estate” | Von Briesen

– “The BoxYard Development” | Casey Stowe, Nelson+Stowe Development

– “Grow Your Retail Sector: How Incubators Can Help Your Community Flourish” | Cody Gunstenson, Buxton Company

– “The Hurdles and Rewards of Development with a Purpose” | Melissa Goins (Maures Development Group, LLC) Josh Jeffers (J Jeffers & Co.), & Juli Kaufmann (Fix Development)

12:30pm to 1:15pm – Complimentary Lunch

1:15pm to 3:30pm – Storefront Breakout Sessions (Session info to come!)


The first half of the conference and the afternoon breakout sessions will happen within 5 Milwaukee Neighborhoods:


Haymarket (Old National ACE Hardware)
The Haymarket neighborhood mainly covers the blocks between Juneau Avenue on the south, Walnut Street on the north, 3rd Street on the east and 8th Street on the west.

Around 1840, Milwaukee’s founders designated this area as a public market. The “Haymarket Square” name later caught on as a place where farmers parked their horses and piles of hay they brought into town for dairies, breweries and tanneries. Grain and wood were also sold there. As automobiles appeared in the 1910s, produce and flowers filled the market, and the need for hay declined.

The market continued through the 1950s, but the surrounding neighborhood had its share of difficulties as people who could afford to move migrated from city to suburbs. They often left behind vacant businesses, rundown homes and a fragmented community.

By the 1960s, urban renewal gained momentum, though it was tough on neighborhoods already experiencing economic and social hardships. The city sued itself in a strange effort to overturn the founders’ original deed which restricted the area to be used only as a public market. Eventually, many homes and other buildings were demolished to make way for industrial and business development.

Today’s Haymarket neighborhood is home to a variety of housing, growing businesses and organizations such as the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and Golda Meir School.
(Info from Wisconsin Historical Markers)

Plunkett Raysich Architects

Riverwalk District (Bader Rutter)
The Milwaukee RiverWalk winds through the heart of the city, tying together three distinct riverfront neighborhoods — the Historic Third Ward, Downtown, and Beerline B.

More than 20 blocks from its’ northernmost to southernmost points, the RiverWalk is unified by permanent and changing art exhibitions that create a unique, urban, outdoor gallery. A leisurely stroll provides plenty of opportunities to discover Milwaukee.

Past and present artfully connect along the Downtown RiverWalk. This section traverses Milwaukee’s main thoroughfare, Wisconsin Avenue, and passes by its largest theater district, which includes the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, which is home to the Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Florentine Opera and First Stage Children’s Theater. Warm summer evenings bring locals and visitors alike to Pere Marquette Park to listen to free weekly concerts as part of the RiverRhythms series or take in an outdoor movie at RiverFlicks.
(Info from Visit Milwaukee)


Midtown (Old Lowes)
Midtown is bordered by North Avenue to the north, 20th Street to the east, Highland Avenue to the south and railroad tracks to the west. This neighborhood on Milwaukee’s northwest side is still struggling to improve through commercial redevelopment and a few nonprofit organizations.

In 1969, the Midtown Conservation Project began as an urban renewal program. However, many residents of the (now-defunct) Midtown Neighborhood Association recalled the loss of community in other Milwaukee neighborhoods, and placed limitations on the amount of clearance they would tolerate. They sought a balance between block clearance/redevelopment and preservation. The project provided nearly $1,000,000 in grants and low-interest loans for property improvements, resulting in the rehabilitation of approximately 650 buildings. However, nearly half the buildings in Midtown were demolished with redevelopment on the cleared space. The neighborhood ended up with widened streets, improved infrastructure, and new housing units. But significant history was also lost. This included an apartment complex on 27th and Highland that had been designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Notable Midtown features include Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Milwaukee T.R.E.E. House at Lynden Hill, St. Michael’s Parish, Casa Maria, and Frances Starms Early Childhood Center.
(Info from Neighborhoods in Milwaukee)

Avenues West (Mobile Design Box)
Just west of downtown, Avenues West runs from 11th to 27th Streets, Highland Avenue to Clybourn Street — or, using the most obvious landmark, it is the northwest quadrant of the Marquette Interchange. This neighborhood has been a study in contrasts since its inception in the late 1800s.

Milwaukee’s elite gravitated west along Spring Street in the 1870s, so many that by 1876 the thoroughfare was renamed “Grand Avenue.” Mansions owned by Cudahy, Plankington, and Pabst contrasted with the Tory Hill homes of the primarily Irish workers of the Menomonee Valley. The city experienced a population boom, money started moving outside the city, and mansions became apartments or multi-family dwellings. The Gothic parish Church, Gesu, arrived in 1894; Marquette became a university in 1907; the Irish began moving to Merrill Park and other residents took their place: Eastern Europeans first, then Latinos and African Americans. When the city expanded farther west during the first part of the century and Grand Avenue became “Wisconsin Avenue,” new institutions like the Ambassador Hotel and the Eagles Club helped keep up appearances, unwittingly or not emphasizing the contrasts. The 1960s construction of the Marquette Interchange cemented Avenues West as a distinct neighborhood, where contrasts co-existed and still do so.

Today, Avenues West is the urban setting of its most well-known institution, Marquette University, which continues to expand its footprint well beyond its original 1881 building at 1004 W. State Street.
(Info from Milwaukee Magazine)

Uptown Crossing
Uptown Crossing runs along West North Avenue from Sherman Boulevard to North 60th Street, and along West Lisbon Avenue between North 46th and 51st streets on Milwaukee’s beautiful Near Westside. The neighborhood is part of the larger Sherman Park neighborhood.

Speaker Bios

Melissa N. Goins, founder and president of Maures Development Group, LLC (Maures), a real estate development company, has earned a reputation in Milwaukee for being one of the premier real estate developers with a particular knack for addressing the challenge of revitalizing blighted neighborhoods.

Goins became involved in commercial real estate after completing Marquette University’s Associates in Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) Program, which sought to create diversity in the industry through networking, training and placement. After receiving her certification in ACRE, she used her passion for real estate development to undertake her first project in one of Milwaukee’s central city neighborhoods.

In 2006, Maures Development Group was selected by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority
(WHEDA), Wisconsin’s Housing Finance Agency, to participate in its Mentor Protégé Program. The program paired emerging real estate development businesses owned by people of color and/or women with established developers with the intention of growing experienced and capable firms. The mentorship contributed to Wisconsin’s economic growth in 2007 when Maures became the first for profit, woman and minority owned firm to receive an allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) in the history of the program. The LIHTC were utilized to construct Teutonia Gardens, Maures’s first mixed-use apartment building. Teutonia Gardens has received local and national awards for its design and positive impact.

Because of her tenacity, expertise and determination Goins quickly earned a reputation for developing innovative projects targeted to historically neglected neighborhoods. Under her leadership, Maures has developed 232 units of apartments with an aggregate development total of $45 million. The firm’s newest development is entitled Milwaukee Prosperity; a partnership with the City of Milwaukee to bring 35 foreclosed units back into productive use. Now in its tenth year, Maures continues to expand its portfolio through acquisition and new real estate development opportunities. Maures real estate pipeline includes: Mill Road Library relocation, and the redevelopment of the Historic Garfield School Campus.

Cody Gunstenson is the Director of Sales in Buxton’s public sector division, Cody assists communities in planning initiatives to form data-driven economic development strategies that will recruit retail and increase quality of life for their residents. He advises communities in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Prior to joining Buxton, Cody held positions in hosted telecom and business development. He holds an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University.


Juli Kaufmann is a serial entrepreneur and currently President of Fix Development, an award-winning Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based commercial real estate company that leads projects that create more sustainable land, buildings, and businesses. She has developed more than $25 million in projects and is primarily interested in social enterprise with a triple bottom line- for the benefit of people, planet, and profit. Juli is also co-founder of Fund Milwaukee, a local investment group that seeks to match unaccredited local investors with opportunities to support local entrepreneurs. The effort has raised over $1 million in local capital to date and has made local investments in both real estate and businesses that include Purple Door Ice Cream, Martha’s Pimento Cheese, Outpost Natural Food Co-Op, Mushroom Mike, Brenner Brewing Company, Coast In Bikes and others. Juli serves on two local non-profit boards: 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, a local noncommercial cultural station where Milwaukeeans discover diverse new music; and Bublr Bikes, Milwaukee’s start-up bikesharing system.

As Director of Community Engagement for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) – Chicago, Swasti Shah manages ULI Chicago’s policy initiatives and technical assistance for local communities. Currently, she is managing policy initiatives focused on promoting reuse of older buildings in the City of Chicago, and helping communities (re)build sustainable, successful retail developments.

Prior to joining ULI Chicago, Swasti worked at HNTB Corporation managing plans ranging in scope from neighborhoods to large metropolitan regions and addressing a range of issues such as land use, transportation, urban design and economic development. Her selected project experience includes preparing Comprehensive Plans for municipalities of Elmhurst, Wayne, and LaGrange and FTA New Starts applications for Madison, WI, and the Kenosha-Racine- Milwaukee (KRM) transit corridor.

Swasti is an active volunteer in her community, chairing arts enrichment and community involvement programs in her children’s school. She serves on the Board of COPE, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting equity in Evanston’s public schools by ensuring all students have the school supplies that they need to be successful.

Swasti has a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor’s in Architecture from Jadavpur University, India.

Thank you to our sponsors!



2017 Sponsorships still available!  Put yourself in front of leading professionals from the creative, economic development, commercial real estate and development industries.  Check out these opportunities!

Please contact Jim Villa, Chief Executive Officer, NAIOP Wisconsin, Ph: 414.870.1873 E: jim@naiop-wi.org


Please contact Jeremy Fojut, Chief Idea Officer at NEWaukee, for questions regarding The Empty Storefronts Conference

2016 Recap

Date: October 27th, 2016 8:30am – 5:30pm

Location: Madison, WI


Description: NAIOP WI , the Commercial Real Estate Development Associationand NEWaukee present the 2nd Storefronts Conference, a day-long conference that focuses on holistic solutions, national trends, best practices, and success stories that lead to action plans and spark ideas to fill empty storefronts. The Storefronts Conference features national and local speakers that have implemented practices and tactics in their own communities and across the country to address vacant storefronts. The inaugural Empty Storefronts Conference is hosted in storefronts and neighborhoods across Milwaukee.

Eppstein Uhen Architects
Hovde Properties
Majic Productions
Ryan Companies
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Community Partners:
1000 Friends of Wisconsin
City of Madison
Downtown Madison
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce
League of Wisconsin Municipalities
Smart Growth Greater Madison
University of Wisconsin – Extension
Visit Madison
Wisconsin Rural Partners

Social Media
8.5k Facebook Users Reached

12,638 LinkedIn Accounts Reached

159 Tweets
170k Twitter Accounts Reached

Attendance: 111 participants

Website Traffic:Unique Visits: 29,656


Attendee Report

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Justin Ley // Hoodstarter – Deathstars, Cows, and Community Meetings: Why crowdsourcing is the future of urban development
Email: justin@hoodstarter.com
Eric Ho //MiLESPROTOTYPING, EXPERIMENTING, & UTILIZING SPACES as a Way to Collaborate and Test New Ideas
Kelsey Otero // Marquette, Near West Side Commercial Corridor Development Working TeamFill That Storefront: Revitalizing Neighborhoods via Small Business Competitions
Nora Schmidt // Viroqua Chamber Main StreetMaking Big with Small and How You Can Fill Storefronts in Your Community Too
Email: nrschmidt@viroqua-wisconsin.com
Line Sandsmark // ShunkpikeWorking with the Wizards of Emerald City
Joe Truesdale & Jenna Floberg // Fond du LacOh Crepe! A Pop Up Fond du Lac Story
Email: joetruesdale@gmail.com
Rachel Quednau // Strong TownsSmall Bets To Build Strong Towns
Email: quednau@strongtowns.org
Anthony Askew // Motor City Match – Motor City Match for Small Business & Developers
Email: aaskew@degc.org
Amy Griel & Francisco Loyola // Kenosha Creative SpaceBe Careful What You Wish For
Matt Wagner // National Main Streets Inc.New Trends in Filling Storefronts along Main Street
Email: MWagner@savingplaces.org
Gary Toth // Project for Public SpacesStreets as Places
Mike Slavish // Hovde Properties – A Developer’s Dilemma: What to do When the Numbers Don’t Add Up (No Presentation)
Email: mslavish@hovdeproperties.com


How To Fill Those Empty Storefronts
Urban Milwaukee
Oct 26th, 2016


“Just wanted to congratulate you on a great conference.  Truly enjoyed it and picked up some great ideas and contacts while there”

— Matt Wagner Ph.D., VP of Community Revitalization, National Main Streets Center, Inc (Chicago, IL)

“Thanks so much for inviting us to speak at the Empty Storefronts conference. We had a lot of fun.”

— Justin Ley, Co-Founder, Hoodstarter

“What a pleasure to chat with you and to be part of the Vacant Storefronts Conference yesterday. Bravo to you and your team for a well executed event and for the remarkable things you are doing as educators and “do-ers” in your community.”

— Nora Schmidt, Executive Director, Viroqua Chamber Main Street

“I just wanted to write and say thanks for inviting me to the Storefronts Conference.  It was a lot of fun and you guys did a great job organizing.  Looking forward to hearing if some positive results ensue.”

— Jeff Wood Principle, The Overhead Wire

“I hope all is well. I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for the invitation to last week’s conference. I connected with some great people and thoroughly enjoyed the presentations I got to see. I wish I’d been able to see more, but I look forward to reviewing the presentations to learn more about other great things happening across the country. I also got great feedback on my presentation with a highly engaged audience. Kudos to you and your team for orchestrating a stellar event.”

 —  Anthony L. Askew Program Manager, Motor City Match Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

“You, the Newaukee team and the crew of NAIOP-WI are fabulous! It was truly an honor to be part of the day. Definitely excited to stay in touch and crossing fingers we’ll find ways to do more work together :)”

— Carol Stakenas Executive Director, No Longer Empty