Dave Reid

Beerline B Apartment Complex to Break Ground in November (Renderings)

By - Oct 6th, 2010 01:36 pm
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Beerline B Apartments

General Capital Group plans to break ground on the 140-unit Beerline B apartment project, located at the long vacant corner of Commerce St. and Pleasant St., in November.  The development project was awarded $2,345,310 in WHEDA tax credits to develop 119 workforce units, and 21 market rate units.  The project will include a new public Riverwalk segment, which will be built using up to $1 million in city funds that was approved on a 4 to 0 vote with 1 abstaining by the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on October 5th, 2010.

There will be preliminary site work during October with foundation construction starting in November.  The project timeline also projects installing the dock wall this Fall, with the entire project taking about thirteen months to complete.  Additionally, the complex may include a public kiosk with the history of the Beerline.  The Riverwalk component will now go before the full Common Council for approval.

Categories: Development News

18 thoughts on “Beerline B Apartment Complex to Break Ground in November (Renderings)”

  1. Chris says:

    Well, it’s neither offensive nor impressive.

    I would however implore the architects to reconsider the “lick n stick” masonry detailing. This look has fallen on its face time and time again. You need to turn the corner with the brick or it looks cheaply applied — especially on a 30 foot tall expanse.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Chris Agreed it pretty much is..

    My “issues” would revolve around how it turns its back on Commerce street, and I wonder how that first floor of parking will look on the Riverwalk… Otherwise generally happy to see that lot finally developed.

  3. Peter says:

    Not the most inspiring design in the world but I’m glad something’s at least being developed there as well. Would’ve been cooler if they used that lime green accent more throughout the design to make it a little more unique in my opinion. Thanks for posting, Dave.

  4. SS says:

    Just for the sake of “something” getting built in that lot is not a good reason. Putting up a building isn’t like painting a wall that you can just change it in a couple years. This is a long term decision with lasting impact on the neighborhood. You want to put up a cheap piece of crap on the **riverfront** just because you’re sick of an empty lot?

    “Workforce units” is what they’re calling them now? Come on guys, according to Daykin’s article a single renter has to make $30k or less to qualify to live there. This is a low income housing project, just like all the ones a few blocks west. Why do you want this kind of project built on the river, in what was supposedly an up and coming area? 119 low income people with 21 market rate renters next to **owner occupied** condos. I’m pretty sure the $500k condo owners next door don’t want this.

    As you guys say, this design isn’t particularly original or appealing. We’ve got way too many industrial chic modern boxes all over the place as it is, and they already look dated. This is an unneeded project that will hurt the neighborhood.

    Usually you guys are completely unrealistic in the high-end urban projects you support. Now you’re just going to settle for housing projects?

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @SS Actually this project has more in common with City Hall Square, and the Pabst Blue Ribbon Lofts than the housing projects to the West, but that seems to be something many don’t seem to understand.

    So you know, downtown Milwaukee has $1 million condos directly next to $600 a month apartments (cheaper than this proposal). Additionally, downtown Milwaukee has a similar development on the river, across from pricey condos, that has been very successful. So I don’t see a problem with it. And quite frankly I want some units in my neighborhood (yeah I put this on the edge of my neighborhood) to be affordable to many income levels, so people can live, work, and play, in the neighborhood.

    Now do I think there are a couple of design issues, sure… Mainly along Commerce St., but well rarely do I get everything I want, nor do I think it is a cheap piece of crap. In fact the design seems to be reflective of the other buildings in the area, in massing, height, the general design, and so on.

    Finally, interestingly enough, not one person spoke at ZND in opposition to this project. Not one.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @SS So you going to make the Urban Milwaukee S. 2nd Street Happy Hour?

  7. SS says:

    Ha, I actually thought about it, but I assumed the entire 2nd St commercial corridor had gone out of business by now! I wanted to look at carpet at Sorefs a few weeks ago but I couldn’t figure out how to get there to save my life.

    Re Beerline, I don’t understand what income level and the ability to “live, work, and play” have to do with each other. You know what, it’s your neighborhood (do you own?) so whatever. If the residents think its going to make their neighborhood better and sustain or grow the value of their homes, then they should get what they ask for. I’m not that naive. This is all about tax credits and building the cheapest building possible. It’s a shame its being done on a riverfront location that someday could be very valuable and desirable.

    Earlier this week when DCD released their grand plans for downtown, the word of the day was “catalytic”. How does this project do anything catalytic? It’s not going to encourage any retail, restaurants, or entertainment and it’s not going to generate any decent property tax revenue. It’s not even that dense and has a huge parking lot in it. Ownership is so important to revitalizing and stabilizing a neighborhood (ask the people up on Brewer’s Hill), I don’t get why you’d do anything to encourage more cheap rentals in this city that is flooded with thousands of foreclosures that people could buy for less than renting. People take no pride in a rental, especially if they’re getting subsidized.

    Can’t wait to read your post on the soon to be auctioned Grand Avenue.

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @SS “It’s not even that dense and has a huge parking lot in it. ” Now this I’d agree with. I’d of course like that parking lot hidden better, hence my streetwall discussion… And I definitely want more density. That said 120 more units certainly isn’t bad for retail. And I’d guess the density of this property is fairly close, if not higher, than much of the Beerline.

    Live, work, and play. Downtown has all sorts of jobs, not just high-end ones, and keeping the area affordable allows people who hold those jobs to live and work here.

    As far as the grand ave, that article is misleading. But as far as its decline I’d say malls die, and every 20 years or so they need big facelifts. I can remember Old Orchard in Chicagoland as a dying mall, now busy… huge facelift. Or Bayshore it was a dying mall.. big facelift… now busy. That said personally I’m not much for malls anyhow and think the Grand Ave should focus on the street level slots, and re-purpose much of the rest of the buildings.

    I’ll be looking for you at Sabattic

  9. Van Manwich says:

    I’m much more OK with how affordable housing was handled by Tim Dixon at Hubbard Street Lofts on the bluff overlooking the Beerline. That building achieves a sense of intimacy in relating to the street that allows Roots to flourish. The design of this building sends up a lot of warning flags. The abundance of parking — the parking court off Commerce Street, what appears to be a “dingbat” approach under the building facing the Riverwalk — makes it a rather weak anchor for this gateway area to the Beerline. It’s an extension of the Schlitz Park ethic (which simultaneously enriches and blights a property with surface parking), resulting in a neighborhood where hopes for future vibrancy bump into an asphalt ceiling. And what happened to the retail? There is a suggestion that the new units will support neighborhood retail.. but where? I don’t see any retail uses mentioned, nor do I see a logical place for it in the renderings.

  10. Dave Reid says:

    @Manwich Agreed the Comerce St. side is the design issue..

  11. Matt S says:

    This is part of my neighborhood too and I am fine with the mixed income nature of the development along the river.

    In related news, I heard today that the construction of the new beer line trail from Gordon Park to the North Avenue pedestrian bridge will be finished and have an official opening next Wednesday. Would be great if you could report on that and the new park the River Rivitalization group is creating at the “wheelhouse” site along the river.

    P.s. Thanks for this website – it is one of my best sources of local news and ideas.

  12. pete says:

    mixing of incomes is a very successful development technique that has been used all across the country… by distributing affordable housing throughout a city rather than consolidating it and creating slums (please don’t tell me this is what you’re in favor of, SS). we need to resist the ignorant desire to separate upper class from lower class, and continue this pattern of income mixing

  13. Jesse Hagen says:

    Just an update, but it looks like site work has begun. As an uninformed bystander it looks like utility work is being done. Glad to hear they’re not wasting any time with this, but hopefully it’s not too late to address some of the concerns listed above.

  14. Dave Reid says:

    @Jesse I saw that, and it was mentioned during the ZND meeting that there would be some work in Oct…

  15. Paul says:

    @Chris: I like the way you put it – Neither offensive nor impressive.

    I would have liked them to address the riverfront side differently than the street side. I understand that this is a residential building and that everyone deserves to have a balcony and maximizing the number of units/floor space is key, but I don’t feel it’s responding to that unique situation well (only so many buildings can get waterfront access after all…).

    As for the commerce side, surface parking…? Underground parking is very very expensive but in this neighborhood it may have been worth the cost. I like that they separated the lot from the street/sidewalk with landscaping and that more interesting kiosk building, but it’s still just trying to hide the fact that they put a surface lot on Commerce Ave.

    I really like the green accents and it’s like they exist where the facade has almost been “pulled away” in a sense, hinting that the entire building is green under the obligatory brick.

    I don’t dislike it. I’m not sure I really get behind it either. I like the integration of different income groups into the area. I’ve always been a fan of integration and economic diversity when done well (read: Jane Jacobs’ thoughts of healthy neighborhoods), and I feel this is a step in the right direction in this case. I’m just indifferent to the design of the building. It doesn’t wow, it’s not obscene.

  16. John says:

    I live on Brewers Hill. Own a nice 3BR condo there. I was dismayed to learn that Beerline b was for “Low Income” families. This in itself does not attract any meaningful retail except maybe a Dollar Store and a White Hen Pantry.

    Seriously, our city planners couldnt come up with anything better than this? I cant imagine anybody in the area being happy about this except for the local drug lords being able to set up a new staging area for downtown.

  17. Dave Reid says:

    @John “city planners” don’t decide if an apartment project utilizes WHEDA tax credits or not, the developer does. The city does zoning (density, height, setback). And so you know downtown has many of these units (City Hall Square comes to mind) and they have added greatly to downtown Milwaukee. Quite frankly having more employed (yup these people have to prove employment) living in the area is a good thing.

  18. Doug G. says:

    I think this project and design is a bit underwhelming for this location, but it will do. I was hoping to see some retail here as well. The view from the river looks pretty nice, but I am not too big of a fan of the view from Commerce St. It will do though and provide some nice infill and bookend the neighorhood.

    Also, I think it’s pretty arrogant to view people making less than 30K to be criminals, deadbeats, and troublemakers. There are plenty of younger people who aren’t making alot of money yet (like myself) that would like a nice downtown area apartment. These people spend money and will help bring business to the area.

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