2017 Empty Storefronts Conference presented by NAIOP

Monday, November 6, 2017 8:30 AM - 6:00 PM ACE Hardware Building MapMap
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Speaker Bios
2016 Recap
2017 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!

This event is part of Startup Week Wisconsin 2017, an entrepreneur-led event that brings entrepreneurs, investors, local leaders and startup enthusiasts together to build momentum and celebrate Southeast Wisconsin’s unique entrepreneurial identity. Over 20 events hosted by 20+ community partners will take place during the inaugural Startup Week Wisconsin, November 6th-12th all over Wisconsin! Learn more here!

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 (1303 N 4th Street)

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” | Charles Cousland (von Briesen & Roper Real Estate Group), Carolyn Esswein (Ce Planning Studio), Patrick Schloss (City of West Allis), & Adam Purcell (Aggie’s Bakery)

– “The Boxyard Development” | Casey Stowe, Nelson+Stowe Development / Boxyard 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 – 1:15pm – Complimentary Lunch

1:15pm – 3:30pm – Storefront Breakout Sessions 

Breakout Session 1 | Mobile Design Box (753 N. 27th St)
1:30 – 2:00 ““Architecting” Change in the Near West Side” | Allyson Nemec, Quorum Architects
2:00 – 2:30 “Creating Place to Fill Space” | Elizabeth Brodek, Wausau River District
2:30 – 3:00 “SOUP: A Recipe for Community Entrepreneurship” | Cassie Coravos, Detroit SOUP

Breakout Session 2 | Uptown Community & Commerce Building (4828 W Lisbon Ave)
1:30 – 2:00 “CoWorking in Storefronts” | Tim Syth, 5 Wise Workshop
2:00 – 2:30 “Waiting in the Wings – Filling Downtown Vacancies” | Craig Tebon, Ripon Main Street
2:30 – 3:00 “Equitable Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Detroit” | April Boyle, Build Institute

Breakout Session 3 | Old Lowes (5800 W. Hope Street)
1:30 – 2:00  “Reshaping Retail” | Dave Wendland, Hamacher Resource Group, Inc.
2:00 – 2:30 “From Me to We: How a community decided the future use of a historic building” | Kelly Ryan, Incourage Foundation
2:30 – 3:00 “Building a Profitable Restaurant Incubator” | Ben Mantica & Tyler Benson, Galley Group

Breakout Session 4 | Bader Rutter (1433 N. Water St)
1:30 – 2:00 “The Modern Workplace: Designing for the Creative Class” | Burton Metz (Wangard), Larry Engel (Bader Rutter), & Jeffrey Garretson (Findorff)
2:00 – 2:30 “WindowShopMKE – bringing Holiday life to vacant storefronts” | Lyn Falk (Retailworks) and Matt Dorner (Milwaukee Downtown)
2:30 – 3:00 “DeMalling a Mall” | Chris Socha, Kubala Washatko Architects

Closing Keynote – The Grand Theatre (212 W Wisconsin Ave)
4:00 – 5:00PM – “A View From and of Different Markets” | Jim Neyer, NAIOP

The After Party Location: Brew City MKE (275 W Wisconsin Ave)


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 Community & Commerce Building)
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.






Westown (The Grand Theatre)
Westown is an area west of the Milwaukee River and downtown, bounded by I-794 on the south, Marquette University neighborhood on the west, McKinley Avenue on the north, and the river on the east.[65]The neighborhood comprises the original Kilbourn Town in what is now downtown Milwaukee. The Shops of Grand Avenue, along with various theaters, restaurants, nightclubs, lies along Wisconsin Avenue. Other attractions in this neighborhood include the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Bradley Center, the US Cellular Arena, the Milwaukee County Courthouse and Old World Third Street.

The Westown neighborhood has seen a substantial amount of redevelopment in the last ten years. It is home to one of Milwaukee’s two free, public Wi-Fi outdoor Hotspots located in Pere Marquette Park.[66] Within West Town about 3,000 reside. Some skyscrapers like the Wisconsin Tower have been converted into upscale condominiums. The city of Milwaukee has wanted to develop Westown as a place to eat, work and live.

April Jones Boyle was a founding team member of D:hive, where she was Director of Small Business Initiatives and helped launch the Build program. She is also the co-creator of a number of grass-roots ventures including the award-winning family Hootenanny kids concert series and CD, the critically acclaimed Indonesian pop-up restaurant Komodo Kitchen and the all mom rock band The Mydols- featured on the Cable television series Gene Simmons Family Jewels. She sits on the board of Kiva Detroit international micro lending program, the advisory board for Ponyride, Detroit’s premiere maker and small scale manufacturing space and The Flag Star Bank Pontiacs Big Idea Grant Program advisory council. She is also co-owner and investor in Gold Cash Gold, the building and restaurant, in Corktown. April is married to Model D Co-founder Brian Boyle and is the mother of three amazing boys – Carter, Gram Henry and Rowen.

Elizabeth Brodek is a native of Racine, Wisconsin, earned a Sociology degree from Beloit College in 2008, and later a JD from Marquette University Law School in 2012. After practicing law for just under a year in Milwaukee, she moved up to Stevens Point and soon thereafter to Wausau, where she became Executive Director of Wausau River District in December 2014.

Under her direction, Wausau River District has increased and diversified private funding by more than 50%, hired an Assistant Director, as well as adding 46 new programs, services, and events in the past three years. Among these, Liz led such inaugural placemaking initiatives as Painted Pianos, bike stencils, the Wausau WaterColor project, storefront murals, crosswalk murals, Wausau’s first-ever pop-up park, first-ever Open Streets event, installed overhead banners and holiday lights, and temporary stage in an under-utilized plaza, now set to be designated as a park. These projects were supplemented by new programming including First Thursdays, Downtown Wausau Dining Week, Downtown Employee Appreciation Week, Jazz on the River, and Downtown Open House, among others, which generated an estimated $1.96 million in economic impact last year. Most recently, Liz coordinated the Art Lives Here street art contest, which resulted in the creation of 18 new murals in only one weekend over the span of three city blocks. Thanks to initiatives like these, vacancy rates in the River District are the lowest they’ve been in the last three decades, and 97 net new businesses more than 1,000 net new jobs have come in to the River District. In addition, Wausau River District is now consistently ranked as one of the top three Main Street programs in the state for both public and private reinvestment, and has been recognized as one of the top 10 Main Street districts in the country the past two years.

Elizabeth was the recipient of the ATHENA Young Professional Award, and recognized as a Person of the Year in Wausau for her work annually since starting with Wausau River District. She sits on several boards and committees including Central Wausau Progress, Public Art Commission Liaison Committee, WausauNext,, Wisconsin Main Street Directs Advisory Team, and WWBIC Rural Advisory Council.

Cassie Coravos is passionate about creating change through building community. She is the Capital Programs Manager at Build Institute, supporting local entrepreneurs through community-driven financial opportunities including Kiva microloans and Detroit SOUP. Before joining the Build team, she founded Jiang China Design, a human-centered design and entrepreneurship bootcamp for college students in China and worked with The Empowerment Plan, an non-profit that employs individuals from shelters and trains them to sew sleeping bag coats for the homeless. She is a founding member of Open IDEO Detroit, a community design organization, and a collaborator of The Forge Detroit, an artist residency in Northwest Detroit. Cassie has a Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing and Design Engineering from Northwestern University and is an alumna of the Venture for America fellowship.

Charlie Cousland is the Chair of the Real Estate Group. He has significant experience in real estate transactions and leasing, real estate development and construction and land use disputes. Some of his recent projects include the site selection, leasing and tenant build-out of a facility located in South America for a North American manufacturer, the negotiation and preparation of a multi-currency loan facility secured by assets located in four different countries, the acquisition of a failed hotel development and subsequent redevelopment of such hotel into university housing, and the acquisition of vacant land, related financing and subsequent development of such land into a municipal anaerobic digester for the processing of biological waste and production of methane gas.

In addition to his real estate practice, Charlie advises corporate, institutional and financial clients in mergers and acquisitions, commercial lending (both asset-based and mezzanine financing), joint ventures, capital formation, shareholder/partner disputes and corporate governance.

Matt Dorner serves as the Economic Development Director for Milwaukee Downtown, Business Improvement District #21 (BID #21), an organization celebrating its 20th year that was established to support the interests of the downtown Milwaukee business community. Milwaukee Downtown funds initiatives aimed at creating a clean, safe, friendly, and economically viable downtown. The district currently manages 150 blocks representing approximately 500 commercial property owners.

Mr. Dorner works closely with a wide variety of stakeholders on BID #21’s efforts and initiatives that focus on promoting new development and attract and retain businesses in downtown Milwaukee. Prior to joining Milwaukee Downtown, Matt served as the Assistant Community Development Director and Economic Development Specialist for a Milwaukee suburb. Mr. Dorner is a graduate of the UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning and holds his Master’s Degrees in Urban Planning and Public Administration.

Larry Engel is an account group leader at Bader Rutter. Larry is responsible for directing strategic planning and implementation of integrated marketing communications programs for some of our top clients. With over thirty years of experience on international, national and regional brands in both business-to-business and consumer channels, Larry has helped clients successfully differentiate in highly competitive markets. Larry’s passion for strategic planning has yielded a range of successful initiatives for his clients, including new product launches, brand introductions and brand repositioning.

Larry also led Bader Rutter’s successful move to a new downtown headquarters building. Leveraging his 12 years of experience leading client OfficeMax Furniture marketing, he applied thought-leading workplace concepts to reinvent BR’s own style of work, transitioning the agency from a mostly private-office culture to one that is entirely open concept.

Carolyn Esswein is an urban designer, planner and educator who has worked with over 30 communities in the Midwest. Her work with communities and developers has helped to change the character of cities from Oak Creek’s Drexel Square, New Berlin’s City Center, to Milwaukee’s Lindsay’s Heights home ownership initiative. Her primary role for 20 years was in consulting, Carolyn now brings her experience to academia as Professor of Practice at the School of Architecture & Urban Planning and Director of Community Design Solutions at UWM. CDS Community Design + Development Charettes are transforming vacant parcels and sites along Milwaukee commercial corridors including the conversion of Garfield School and development of Pete’s Fruit Market in Bronzeville, Milwaukee Enterprise Center near MLK Drive, visions for adaptive reuse in Granville, and façade enhancements in LBWN. Other CDS projects have been recognized nationally for converting vacant parcels into parks and orchards on Milwaukee’s northwest side. Carolyn’s UWM urban design studios and graduate urban planning courses have focused their projects on large impact Milwaukee sites, the Harbor district, and individual neighborhood sites. Student work provides innovative redevelopment design concepts, sustainable energy strategies, implementation policies, and continues to influence City decisions and recommendations.

Carolyn continues to practice as owner of Ce Planning Studio, LLC, a firm that adds value through design visioning, public engagement, and community investment. Her projects add value to communities with neighborhood redevelopment strategies, adaptive reuse concepts for vacant malls and retail, and partnership solutions. She has received numerous state and regional awards for her work including the WCREW SPIRE Award for her impact on real estate and development in Wisconsin, 2015 Community Based Faculty of the Year from UWM, SXSW Urban Strategies Award, and was a Harvard Innovation in Government semi-finalist in 2017.

Carolyn has a BS Interior Design degree from UW-Madison, Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Planning degrees from UW-Milwaukee. She serves on the Executive Board for Congress for New Urbanism-WI, the Harbor District, and previously served 11 years on the Exec Board for the WI American Planning Association.

Lyn Falk is founder and President of Retailworks, Inc., (1995) an award-winning branding, design/display and consulting firm specializing in retail, corporate and hospitality spaces. Her expertise in retail design, business, and consumer psychology has helped her develop designs that not only meet but often exceed her clients’ projected goals.

Falk and her team transform spaces into vibrant destinations, telling unique stories in 2-D and 3-D manners that move minds and merchandise. She has worked in over 35 different retail industries throughout the U.S. and Canada. Her client list includes Allen Edmonds, Kesslers Diamonds, the Kohler Company, Mars Cheese Castle, Mercury Marine, Miller Brewing, Road America, and Outpost Natural Foods.

Ms. Falk has served as a speaker and consultant for the National Main Street Center since 1995. She has worked with over 55 communities, helping them define and strengthen their retail/business districts. She has taught at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, has spoken to thousands of professionals, citizens and students, and her work has been acknowledged over 150 times in over 80 different publications.

Galley Group was co-founded by Tyler Benson and Benjamin Mantica, who together founded Smallman Galley, the first food hall restaurant accelerator of its kind in the United States.

Tyler and Ben are Navy Veterans who were inspired by world travels to bring innovative food and beverage concepts to the United States. The partners have built a team of professionals with top expertise in every aspect of food and beverage concept development and management. We believe we have the best team in the industry and we are willing to prove it with every project we take on.

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.


Joshua Jeffers is the President of J. Jeffers & Co., a real estate development and investment firm based in Milwaukee, WI. J. Jeffers & Co. is committed to historic preservation, affordable housing, and economic development in southeastern Wisconsin. The Company is currently engaged in a $16 million renovation of the Mackie and Mitchell Buildings in Milwaukee. The company’s other recent projects include the In Bounds Training sports facility in Glendale, the Dietrich Building renovation in East Wauwatosa, and scattered sites housing rehabilitation in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood.

Prior to forming J. Jeffers & Co. in 2010, Joshua worked in the private equity real estate industry, starting his career in the Acquisitions department of Walton Street Capital in Chicago. Joshua’s transactional experience includes nearly $1.4 billion of commercial real estate investment in U.S. and international markets, and spans office, retail, multifamily, industrial, hospitality, and mixed-use asset types.

Joshua graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Finance and Real Estate. Joshua also holds a Masters in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard 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.

Burgen Metz is the vice president of Wangard Partners. With over 10 years of experience, Burton maximizes the value of Wangard Partners’ 2.5 million square feet of commercial office properties. With his unique background in commercial real estate, entrepreneurial management and financial analysis, he customizes end-to-end real estate solutions for each client. From performing site selection, modeling the economics of the project, to managing the project’s construction process, his well-rounded approach drives a solution that is on time, within budget and encompasses exceptional quality. He is a member of CARW, NAIOP, Beyond Vision Board, Animart Board and a NAIOP Forum member. Burton graduated from University of Minnesota top of his class with a BBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management.

Allyson Nemec has developed Quorum Architects approach to design services, which centers on their specialization in programming and understanding the client’s business and organization. Allyson is involved in the schematic design and design development of the firms’ projects. In this capacity she has lead projects for various independent renovation and new construction clients. Allyson also has managed many complicated public projects including several projects for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.

Allyson has a diverse academic and professional background. Her studies in Architectural History and professional experience in Historic Preservation architecture make her well-suited for coordinating the architectural and engineering services on renovation and adaptive re-use projects. Allyson is also an Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There she has taught undergraduate building design studio courses, and a graduate comprehensive studio. Quorum Architects practices sustainable design. We believe that renovating existing buildings is the most sustainable form of design. As a LEED Accredited Professional, Allyson is knowledgeable in environmentally sensitive materials and systems and integrates them into the design process.

Jim Neyer leads the Al. Neyer, LLC real estate development activities with a balanced focus on market-driven investment and creative solutions. Jim has over 25 years experience in commercial real estate,
in development, financing and construction. He has the hands-on expertise and strategic perspective to drive results for our company and our investor partners. Jim is a member of the Executive Team of Al. Neyer, LLC.

Neyer is currently NAIOP’s Chairman of the Board elect for 2017 and will be Chairman of the Board in 2018.



As Associate Director for the Social Innovation Initiative, and co-lead for the 707 Hub (Marquette’s new hub for innovation), Kelsey Otero provides support, guidance, and resources to students and community members interested in solving society’s most pressing problems with solutions that are innovative, sustainable, and just.

She leads boot camps on building your social venture (nonprofit or for-profit) and is responsible for programing that supports entrepreneurial development across campus. In addition, Kelsey works on economic development in the Near West Side, serving as Co-Chair of the Commercial Corridor Working Team.

Before Marquette, Kelsey worked in Olympic marketing on 3 different Olympic Games! In her free time, you can often find her in Door County, traveling, or spending time with her family.

Upon graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2007, Adam Purcell’s professional trajectory took a unique and challenging path as he balanced both a full time corporate career with also being the business owner of Aggie’s Bakery and Cake Shop located in metro Milwaukee. Despite the challenges – Adam’s relentless drive, work ethic and business acumen paid off as he earned four promotions in four years while the bakery grew over 400% under his leadership. As the family bakery continued to grow and require more time, Adam left his corporate position in 2015 to become a full-time entrepreneur. He jumped in whole heartedly by purchasing and extensively renovating 10,000 sq. ft. building with an empty storefront in Downtown West Allis as the new home for the bakery. Since that move, the bakery has flourished with over 60% sales growth and in 2017 Adam was awarded as Entrepreneur of the Year by the West Allis / West Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce. In his spirit of growth and entrepreneurship, Adam now uses his talents helping individuals and business owners with their financial planning as a Financial Advisor at Northwestern Mutual. Outside of work, Adam is passionate about spending quality time with his family and friends, exercising and reading.

For 20 years, Kelly Ryan has served as CEO of Incourage, a central Wisconsin organization nationally recognized as an innovative place-based philanthropy working to realize a simple, yet bold vision of a community that works well for all. To advance an inclusive and sustainable local economy, Incourage has developed a holistic approach that is values-led and user-centered. As CEO, Kelly is leading Incourage in its commitment to align all forms of capital with organizational values and mission congruence, placing primary value on human potential.

Named one of the 50 most influential leaders in the nonprofit sector by the NonProfit Times and a Rural Innovator by the White House, Kelly often speaks and writes about the opportunity for philanthropy at the intersection of people, place and prosperity. A physical manifestation of Incourage’s investment in community is the Tribune Building Project, a user-centered redevelopment project that represents hope and change for the south Wood County area.

Patrick Schloss as the Community Development Manager for the City of West Allis works to promote redevelopment and economic development. In this role, he works to creatively develop public financing strategies, public-private partnerships, attraction programs, and effective utilization and management of millions in federal grants and programs such as the Community Development Block Grant Funds, US EPA Revolving Loan Fund and grants, State grants, Section 8 Housing Choice and Veterans Assistance and Support Housing Vouchers.

Since 2002, Schloss has assisted numerous small businesses with economic development loans, façade grants, guided companies in receiving state incentives or tax credits, and provide valuable technical assistance. Schloss is active regional approaches to economic development such as Milwaukee 7 while assisting the industrial cluster and Main Street businesses of West Allis. Oversight includes the City’s fifteen tax increment districts that have contributed $ 146.9 million of value and added 4,629 jobs. Currently, he is involved in negotiations to launch in late 2017 early 2018, over $100 million in development consisting of over 400 housing units, medical office, and commercial spaces. Schloss was instrumental in helping secure $6 million in equity through a successful application for Section 42 Tax Credits to renovate a City owned, 104-unit senior housing campus. Further activities have included marketing the City in various capacities, construction of new affordable homes, development of a business guide that provides a road map through the City approval process, and assistance to Mayor in developing the City’s new Neighborhood Association Program and guided the 2016-2017 $1.5 million investment into neighborhood parks.

Schloss serves as Vice President of a successful Community Development Entity called First-Ring Industrial Redevelopment Enterprise, Inc. (F.I.R.E.) that received over $208- million in New Market Tax Credits to support regional economic growth in Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha Counties.

Schloss is a Past President of the Wisconsin Economic Development Association. Through the years, Schloss has presented on numerous panels and roundtables regarding economic development, Main Street programs, and the financial program of New Market Tax Credits. Professional affiliations include NAIOP, CARW, ICSC, International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). Schloss has been part of the Development team that has launched projects that were recognized by the League of Cities with the Good Government Award and Public Policy Forum for Best Public-Private Partnerships. Schloss also participates on the Board for the Wisconsin Business Development, Inc. – as SBA lender and NMTC recipient.

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.

Architect and prominent urban Milwaukee advocate, Chris Socha leads TKWA Urban Lab. This new venture is focused on supporting ongoing community efforts in making downtown Milwaukee a more vibrant urban center. The studio’s physical presence in the City allows TKWA to provide an active voice in shaping the future of Milwaukee at a time of dynamic change and growth in the downtown. A generalist in practice,
Chris works to ensure that the built environment contributes to an active and livable public realm.

His project experience includes the Grand Avenue Mall redevelopment, Milwaukee Public Market, and Lakefront Brewery. Chris is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Tim Syth is a project-based worker focused on systems change, productivity improvement, and organizational development. He works as an independent researcher and project developer under the Lush Production moniker.

Tim engages in discovery, development, and facilitation processes to support organizations and workers. He believes there exists a golden opportunity to reimagine the role of work in society and community and economic development practices for the better.

Tim’s core interests are collaborative systems that improve organizational operation, heighten worker productivity and well-being, and expand community and economic development. He has five of years experience running a collaborative space in Milwaukee, WI, has worked on both local and national level grants, and currently works with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations as a consultant.

Previous clients have included the Knight Foundation, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Alliance for Regional Development, and the Greater Milwaukee Committee. Tim has also done thought leadership work with the Institute for the Future, National Arts Strategies, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Craig Tebon is a community development consultant with 25 years non-profit organization management, business consulting, and urban planning experience. Employed by Ripon Main Street, Inc. as its Downtown Manager, Craig has been involved in hundreds of successful projects including business recruitment and real estate development projects. He has personally rehabilitated dozens of historic commercial and residential buildings. Craig works with business and property owners in Ripon’s central business district, helping to decrease the vacancy rate from 24% down to below 4%.

Craig also provides consulting services to numerous communities and businesses throughout Wisconsin as President of Community Development Concepts. Throughout his career, he has been instrumental in advancing small business and community development issues. Craig has a BS in Urban Studies with an emphasis in Environmental Design, along with a BS in Environmental Planning from UW-Green Bay.

Dave Wendland is a 25+ year veteran of the consumer packaged goods industry and is passionate about optimizing results across the retail supply chain. A sought-after speaker for industry conferences and corporate events, Dave provides dynamic and thought-provoking presentations that are never canned, but are as unique as each audience he engages.

Dave Wendland began his career in 1981 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater with a bachelor of arts in communications and marketing. In 1992, Dave joined 
D. P. Hamacher & Associates which in 2001 transformed to become Hamacher Resource Group (HRG). As the company’s vice president – strategic relations and member of the ownership team, Dave has remained instrumental in positioning HRG as an industry leader in retail consulting.

He is a regular contributor to HRG’s Behind the Shelf blog, as well as industry publications including HealthCare Distributor, Drug Store News, Grocery Headquarters, Chain Drug Review, and Dave is a featured author part of the Forbes Agency Council. He is also a brain trust panelist for RetailWire and serves on various association committees including Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), and Global Market Development Center (GMDC) task groups.

HRG, with headquarters in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, addresses dynamic market needs such as product assortment planning and placement, retail execution strategy, fixture coordination, item database management, brand marketing, and analytics.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Gold Level–


Silver Level–


Bronze Level–


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

Date: November 6th, 2017

Location: Milwaukee, WI (Neighborhoods: Westown, Haymarket, Downtown, Uptown Crossing, Avenues West, Midtown)

Website: www.emptystorefronts.com

Description: 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 and is hosted in storefronts and neighborhoods across Milwaukee.

Town Bank
von Briesen
Zilber Ltd.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Milwaukee Downtown, BID 21
Quorum Architects
Associated Bank
Urban Milwaukee
Wangard Partners

Website Traffic: 3,310 unique impressions

Social Media
Facebook: 65,609 impressions 
14,139 impressions
13,534 impressions

Attendance: 193 RSVPs

Attendees By Location:

Speaker Presentation Links & Contact Information:

“From Empty Storefronts to Vibrant Developments – How do we get there? | Swasti Shah (Swasti.Shah@uli.org), Urban Land Institute

“Creative Redevelopment of Retail: Driving the Highest and Best Use for Underutilized Real Estate” | Charles Cousland (ccouslan@vonbriesen.com – von Briesen & Roper Real Estate Group), Carolyn Esswein (carolyn@ceplanningstudio.com – Ce Planning Studio), Patrick Schloss (pschloss@westalliswi.gov – City of West Allis), & Adam Purcell (adam.purcell@nm.com – Aggie’s Bakery)

“The Boxyard Development” | Casey Stowe (casey@nelsonstowe.com), Nelson+Stowe Development / Boxyard Development

“Grow Your Retail Sector: How Incubators Can Help Your Community Flourish” | Cody Gunstenson (cgunstenson@buxtonco.com), Buxton Company

““Architecting” Change in the Near West Side” | Allyson Nemec (Allyson@quorumarchitects.com), Quorum Architects

“Creating Place to Fill Space” | Elizabeth Brodek (elizabeth@wausauriverdistrict.org), Wausau River District

“SOUP: A Recipe for Community Entrepreneurship” | Cassie Coravos (cassie@detroitsoup.com), Detroit SOUP

“CoWorking in Storefronts” | Tim Syth (tim@lushproduction.com), 5 Wise Workshop

“Waiting in the Wings – Filling Downtown Vacancies” | Craig Tebon (craig@riponmainst.com), Ripon Main Street

“Equitable Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Detroit” | April Boyle (april@buildinstitute.org), Build Institute

“Reshaping Retail” | Dave Wendland (Dave_Wendland@hamacher.com), Hamacher Resource Group, Inc.

“Building a Profitable Restaurant Incubator” | Ben Mantica (ben@galleygrp.com) & Tyler Benson (tyler@galleygrp.com ), Galley Group

“The Modern Workplace: Designing for the Creative Class” | Burton Metz (bmetz@wangard.com – Wangard), Larry Engel (Bader Rutter), & Jeffrey Garretson (jgarretson@findorff.com – Findorff)

“WindowShopMKE – bringing Holiday life to vacant storefronts | Lyn Falk (lfalk@retailworksinc.com – Retailworks) and Matt Dorner (mdorner@milwaukeedowntown.com – Milwaukee Downtown)

“DeMalling a Mall” | Chris Socha (csocha@tkwa.com), Kubala Washatko Architects

“A View From and of Different Markets” | Jim Neyer (jtneyer@neyer.com), NAIOP