Light Rain | 18MPH




September 2014


Jeff Seymour sees potential in Oconomowoc

Waukesha developer, artist has big ideas

When Jeff Seymour came to downtown Waukesha about 15 years ago, it was a quiet area without much thriving development or buzz.

But he liked what he saw. He saw potential.

"I came to Waukesha because of opportunity," Seymour said. "There was a sense of a community, and I wanted to help thecommunity get better and improve the redevelopment.

"I got involved to help make a difference and make positive change."

He has this same vision for downtown Oconomowoc.

"It's just a beautiful area with plenty of opportunities," said Seymour, who lives in downtown Waukesha.

So, after having a hand in transforming downtown Waukesha through Art Crawls, other art movements and his own redevelopment project - Brook Street Artisan Village - Seymour is attempting to do the same in Oconomowoc.

He is hoping to accomplish this in the new Fowler Lake Village, a 38-unit condominium and commercial development that would be built over a city-owned parking lot on the Fowler Lake frontage.

"Condominiums are a much greater value to the city than houses," Seymour said.

Work-Live concept

Seymour said the project is still in its early stages (a majority of the City of Oconomowoc's Common Council voted to approve a preliminary agreement for the city to finance $6 million in July) and added that he has been seeking a redevelopment in the area since 2003.

He said the units would be all different sizes ranging from 900 square feet to 2,200, and said the Village would be a work-live concept, where the owner could live upstairs and work on another floor, similar to the Third Ward in Milwaukee.

"The city is looking to grow, and we're trying to restore the vitality in the area and be a catalyst for the rebirth in downtown Oconomowoc," Seymour said. "We're trying to attract to the creative class and really for any entrepreneurs in a live-to-work concept. It allows people to live and work in the same place and with the downtown so close, it becomes a walkable community and this style of living is very desirable."

Seymour said this model works especially for artists, but he encourages other entrepreneurs to see what these condominiums have to offer, something he has seen in Waukesha.

"These people will shop, dine and support local businesses," Seymour said. "I chose to do this because it's common for artists to help transform and redevelop downtowns and now they can have ownership and benefit financially from their efforts."

Expanding creative class

Seymour sees similarities between Waukesha and Oconomowoc.

"I think they're both beautiful," Seymour said. "They're both small cities with a lot of great characteristics. They're unique, but both have one thing in common: they want to improve, change, grow and be vibrant, and that's the goal of a lot of small and larger cities.

"It's also going to expand the entrepreneur and creative class."

This creative class will include artists - a group Seymour knows quite well.

His development in downtown Waukesha houses many local artists, and he's one himself.

He's a graphic designer by trade and paints as a "stress relief."

But it's not just a hobby as Seymour is quite skilled having been chosen to paint one of the 10-foot fiberglass Gibson guitars for the GuitarTown project in downtown Waukesha earlier this year.

He uses recycled materials in his work and even recycled paint. This was seen in his "Les is More" over-sized guitar creation when he used pieces of an old rocking chair as Les Paul's hairline, a key to the city that he received for the frame on Paul's glasses as well as a license plate for the base of the glasses.

'A sense of community'

Seymour says GuitarTown brought downtown Waukesha together and hopes to use that same mind-set in Oconomowoc.

"It was an incredible community-building event and that's at the heart of what I'm doing in Oconomowoc," Seymour said. "It's meant to be a community-building project and be interactive.

"People have had worries that this is going to close off the lakefront and exclude people. That's the opposite of what we're doing. It's a positive development downtown that's meant to compliment the entrepreneur and business spirit in Oconomowoc and be a catalyst for new and established businesses."

Seymour said he learned something through his Waukesha developments.

"People told me that they moved there because it gave them ownership and a sense of community," Seymour said. "That's great to hear because that's what we're trying to accomplish with this project in Oconomowoc."

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Living Lake Country

E-mail Newsletter

Top stories from the Lake Country area. Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings.

Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter
Get the Newsletter!

Login or Register to manage all your newsletter preferences.
Lake Country Construction Guide


Consruction season is underway in Lake Country and

we've got you covered when it comes to street closures and delays:

Mukwonago area projects

Sussex, Menomonee Falls area projects

Kettle Moraine area projects

Greater Lake Country area projects


Special Report
Community Pride 2014


Celebrate Lake Country 

communities with stories

of community pride








Rummage Router
Just click to find a rummage near you


Your Photos
Lynell Meeth, MainStage Academy of Dance - Dousman , WI
Community Blogs

Lake Country residents share their views on news, happenings and current events.

Cook's Corner
By Cynthia Acosta Luksich
August was National Peach Month - yum: Paula's crust & Logan's Peach Pie

It's Hemmer Time
By Amy L. Geiger-Hemmer
Obama has no intention of defeating ISIS...period.

Bernie Ziebart

The Engineering Perspective
By Bernie Ziebart
Penn State

By Mike Garber
35th Topic - This space for rent

Eagle's Eye
By Al Neuhauser
Global Humbug IX-Environmental Madness features more than a dozen community bloggers - a group of volunteer conversation leaders who are up on the latest topics and never short on an opinion. Just a few are pictured here. Check out the rest and see what they have to say!

View All Blogs

Discussion Guidelines

Do you want to become a Community Blogger? welcomes your thoughts and opinions. Contact us for more information:
I want to blog

Legal Notices
Back to top