Dave Reid
Plats And Parcels

5 Wangard Projects to Watch For in 2016

A big year for the developer and proof the city's development momentum hasn't slowed.

By - Jan 7th, 2016 11:26 am
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Preliminary rendering of Wangard's Park East Block 22 proposal. Design by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

Preliminary rendering of Wangard’s Park East Block 22 proposal. Design by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

Wangard Partners Inc. certainly has a lot of city projects queued up for 2016. Four of the projects will dramatically change the face of downtown Milwaukee’s northern edge, and the fifth is a part of the continuing development of Walker’s Point.

Here are the five projects worth watching for in 2016:

1. Freshwater Plaza: In October 2015, Wangard broke ground on Freshwater Plaza, 1320 S. 1st St., in Walker’s Point. The $48 million mixed-use development will include offices, 76 apartments and a Cermak’s Fresh Market grocery store. Michael Horne noted at the time that the project received $30 million in bank loans from U.S. Bank and Tri-City Bank, a $1 million grant from the state, $10 million in New Market Tax Credits, and $4.8 million in city Tax Incremental Financing. Additionally, there was $3.2 million in equity financing. Construction of Freshwater Plaza will continue throughout 2016.

2. Brady and Water: In early 2015 Wangard demolished Mike Mervis’s former home at 1693 N. Water St. and began demolition of the former Habhegger Wheel and Axle building, at the corner of N. Water and E. Brady streets. By May 2015 the firm had completed demolition. According to a November 2015 story by Horne, Wangard plans to develop an 89-unit complex on the recently cleared site. Wangard has received Board of Zoning Approval for the project but still needs the riverwalk design approved by the city. This project is unique because the design attempts to capitalize on its proximity to Swing Park. According to Dorothy Snow, marketing director for Wangard, this project is planned to break ground in May 2016.

3. Laacke & Joys: In July 2015 Sean Ryan of the Business Journal reported that Wangard was attempting to acquire the former Laacke & Joys property. Its plan would convert the existing building to an office use while a larger 200,000-square-foot building would replace an existing warehouse. Burton Metz, Wangard vice president, told Ryan the new building could be more mixed-use. In addition, a small 8,000-square-foot building could be renovated and used as a restaurant space. Snow informs Urban Milwaukee that construction is supposed to start on this project in the spring.

4. Avenir Phase II: In February 2015 the first phase of the Avenir, a mixed-use building with 104 luxury apartments and 7,045 square feet of ground level retail space opened. According to Snow, the apartments are already 90 percent leased and should be 95 percent leased by the end of the first quarter. Last week Wangard President Wayne Wiertzema told Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel that the firm plans to begin construction on the 82-unit second phase of the Avenir this spring. The Avenir complex is located at 1437 N. Jefferson St. in the Park East.

5. Park East Block 22: The big Wangard news came last week when county executive Chris Abele announced that the firm intends to purchase Park East Block 22 for $2.4 million and develop a $47 million mixed-use residential complex. Block 22 is just west of the Avenir complex and bounded by N. Water St., N. Milwaukee St., E. Ogden Ave., and N. Broadway. This site was formerly planned to be developed by the joint venture of Opus Development Company LLC and Mercy Housing Lakefront, but that $60 million project fell through. At the time Wangard had also responded to a county request for proposals for the site but was denied by the county as it appeared the company intended to request Tax Incremental Financing from the city.

The current plan includes 250 apartments and 70,000 square feet of retail space. The high-end apartments would include granite counter tops, hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances. The complex would include a fitness center, rooftop terraces, a common green area, patios, 450 enclosed parking spots and possibly a Bublr Bikes bike-share station. Twenty percent of the apartments in the first phase would be set aside for affordable housing.

The land sale not yet complete, but only needs the additional approval of county comptroller Scott ManskeUnder the new state law giving the county executive more control over land sales, approval by Abele and either the comptroller or head of the county’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Council are all that’s needed; the county board has no say over these deals.

Snow tells Urban Milwaukee that “Wangard is anticipating to start on this development later in 2016 at the earliest.”

In Other News

The Couture, a $122 million mixed-use tower that will include 302 high-end apartments, a streetcar stop, and retail, faces another delay. Teig Whaley-Smith, county administration director, told Daykin of the Journal Sentinel that the Downtown Transit Center, 909 E. Michigan St., won’t be sold to Developer Rick Barrett until the end of March due to negotiations with the Federal Transit Administration.

Congress voted to extend the EB-5 program through September 30th, 2016. The program allows for foreign investors to receive Green Cards in exchange for a $500,000 to $1 million investment and the creation or retention of 10 US jobs. According to an NBCNews story by Chris Fuchs 95 percent of these investments have gone into real estate development projects across the U.S.

And in case you missed it, we featured the Kimpton Hotel project in last week’s Friday Photos.

9 thoughts on “Plats And Parcels: 5 Wangard Projects to Watch For in 2016”

  1. Justin A says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Wangard has been missing groundbreaking dates for Brady/Water for years now. There’s still a sign that says “Coming October 2016″ on the fencing which I’m assuming means they missed another groundbreaking because I don’t see that building going up in 9 months. Avenir, same thing. The first phase was delayed for YEARS. I doubt this one gets out of the ground on time.

    Wangard and Mandel seem to always fail to miss their deadlines. Mandel was supposed to break ground on the 4th phase of North End right after the 3rd. A year and a half later and still no action. Domus has been missing deadlines for years now promising “groundbreakings by the end of the year” for the last 3 or 4 years. Both the North End and Domus missed ANOTHER deadline. Their most recent. Both were supposed to break ground by the end of last year, neither of which happened. Domus’ most recent deadline, 60-90 days, was a couple months ago. In order to hit that, they would have to break ground by mid-January. I don’t see that happening.

    I feel like it should be common practice in Milwaukee to just add a few years on to the end of every deadline. By this logic, all of these Wangard projects should be getting out of the ground by 2018 or 2019 which seems more reasonable.

  2. Ryan N says:

    I’ve heard Domus is supposed to begin in January.

  3. Ryan N says:

    Which would actually be within the 90 day window they provided.

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Justin True enough. It’ll be interesting to see how many of the Wangard projects get going in 2016.

  5. Justin A says:

    I hope I’m wrong because Domus is one of the projects I’ve really been looking forward to as it is the last river parcel in the Third Ward. Just looking back at news archives though, they’ve been announcing and missing groundbreakings every year since 2011. And that is just after the Domus plan was converted to apartments from Condos. Hasn’t the idea of this project been around since before the recession (as a condo project)?

  6. Ryan N says:

    Good thing about Domus though is the city actually finally approve riverwalk funding I believe in September or October of last year. That has to mean it’s very close since it wasn’t moved on before. I’ve been told January like I said, whether that holds is another story but I have a feeling it will.

  7. Mike Carey says:

    Is this Wangaard related to the statre senator who won a highly gerrymandererd district recently?

  8. Dave Reid says:

    No they are not related (note not spelled the same).

  9. David Coles says:

    Whitney Gould is badly missed. Milwaukee media suffers from the absence of a full-time architecture and design critic. As a result, virtually all development is welcomed with open arms, even if it all looks more or less the same. Milwaukee deserves better.

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