Case Studies

Cornerstone Development of S.E. Wisconsin LLC

10 years of ranch-style community development in Wisconsin

John Wahlen founded Cornerstone Development of S.E. Wisconsin LLC in 2004 as a response to the demographic and cultural changes that are consistently transforming the U.S. Since then, Cornerstone has become the pre-eminent developer and builder of ranch-style Wisconsin condominium communities. Headquartered in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, Cornerstone develops communities in the Milwaukee suburban and metropolitan areas.

Cornerstone Contracting HomeAs a residential developer of ranch-style condominiums, Cornerstone primarily targets the baby boomer market. “About 30 percent of our business comes from people who have been widowed or divorced,” says Wahlen. “What’s great about our communities is they include a clubhouse and pool so people get that social neighborhood environment.”

Cornerstone’s condominium developments offer ranch-style floor plans that vary in design, construction features and lifestyle. This appeals to retirees, rising young executives and single-again buyers. In addition to the clubhouse and pool, each neighborhood condo community includes an on-site fitness center, community room and outdoor amphitheater, providing residents with a carefree lifestyle.

Accumulating experience

The development team at Cornerstone leverages more than 25 years of experience in engineering, construction, sales and development management with a highly successful track record of neighborhood creation in southeast Wisconsin. After a successful tenure as director of sales for a glue company, Wahlen decided to purchase a franchise with Epcon Communities. “After working for the glue company for a number of years, we sold the company and I decided it was a great time to try something new,” recalls Wahlen. “It also allowed me to come back home to Wisconsin.”

In measuring success of the company on a job-to-job basis, Cornerstone works with GuildQuality, a customer satisfaction surveying company for contractors. The true success of each job is based upon whether or not the end user would do business again with Cornerstone and if they would recommend the company to friends and family. Cornerstone recently was awarded the Epcon Home Building Franchise Award for Most Highly Recommended Builder.

The company also won the 2015 Milwaukee Metropolitan Builders Association Achievement Award for Best Development for its community, The Glen at Seven Stones. “This was truly an honor for Cornerstone Development and every member of our dedicated, visionary and hard-working staff,” says Wahlen. “We build homes, not ‘units’ and that is the ideal that our customers repeatedly tell us they most appreciate in the communities we put together.”

The Glen at Seven Stones is a community nestled in the beautiful Lake Country area of Waukesha County in Sussex, Wisconsin. The neighborhood features 56 ranchstyle homes, complete with a clubhouse featuring a heated outdoor pool and deck, large-screen television, fireplace, workout room, full kitchen and a community room for group events.

A company of the future

Cornerstone currently has three major communities in the works and will be starting the construction phase for each in 2016. Wahlen says that there has already been quite a response from potential homebuyers. “Our phone has been ringing off the hook with interested people,” he notes. “One community will most likely be sold out before we even break ground. It has 96 prospects for 69 lots.” In his 10 years in the community development industry, Wahlen has found that one of his favorite aspects of the job is to see the joy in clients’ faces when they walk into their new homes. Another aspect that he enjoys is witnessing a sense of community form within the development.

“I love to see the environment take shape where people are getting involved,” he shares. “All of the sudden you’ll see social events taking place such as walking clubs, men’s clubs and cocktail parties. Many of our clients were in their previous homes for 30 years and suddenly they’re making new friends and having new experiences. It’s so great to see that happen.”

Wahlen also says that a tradition of having doughnuts and coffee on the first Saturday of every month was started at the very first community that Cornerstone developed called Pilgrim Glen. “Ten years later that tradition still holds,” he adds. “I go back there and I’m still invited.”

The future is bright for Cornerstone, especially due to its geographical footprint. Wisconsin has been labeled as one of the best places to live for an active, enjoyable life after age 50, according to a new livability index from AARP. With its strong reputation for quality and service, Cornerstone Development of S.E. Wisconsin LLC will remain a leader of community development in the Midwest.

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