Urban Milwaukee
Eyes on Milwaukee

OnMilwaukee.com Moves Downtown

Plus: problems for a new hotel and say goodbye to two bars.

By - Nov 16th, 2012 09:30 am

OnMilwaukee.com has traded the East Side for East Town, with a move from 1930 E. North Ave to The City Center at 735. Their now former home had undergone a series of ownership and tenant changes in the past few years (as well as a renovated façade), with Westbury Bank being replaced with PNC Bank, and ownership moving from Westbury to Wangard Partners and ultimately to an investor from New York City.

Their new home is no stranger to change as well. The First Wisconsin National Bank building at 735 N. Water St. was rebranded The City Center at 735 in late 2010. Shortly thereafter, the attached former bank annex (731 N. Water St) was overhauled into a Gold’s Gym. Just last week, Tazinos, an all-you-can-eat pizza, pasta, and salad buffet, opened in the facility.

It’s safe to say that OnMilwaukee.com upgraded with their move downtown. They traded a building that they once called one of the 100 ugliest things in Milwaukee for a building designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham. I’m a bit disappointed they didn’t give away 1,000 bratwursts like fellow tenant Cresa did when they moved in. – Jeramey Jannene

Blackhole Begone

 A Lower East Side blackhole is set to become a privately-financed apartment building if HSI Properties gets their way. An ugly one-story industrial facility, the former home of Pro Graphics, Inc, would become 80 to 100 apartments according to HSI Properties co-owner Ryan Schultz.

The facility would come on the heels of Wangard Partners’ development of the 1910 on Water apartments, located kitty corner across Water Street. According to HSI, the determining factor in the number of units they will propose is how much underground parking they can build. Parking wasn’t as difficult an issue across the street at 1910 on Water where the land slopes uphill and there isn’t a river to contend with.

The project will require a rezoning to accommodate a residential use, which will open the project up to public review by the City Plan Commission, the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee, and the full Common Council. East Siders are certain to voice their opinions on the project at a neighborhood meeting likely to be held in early 2013. Provided the proposed building has good urban form, why one would oppose the conversion of a riverfront, empty and near-windowless industrial building into an apartment building in a stretch of urban housing is beyond me. That said, it’s nearly certain the NIMBY issue will arise: some group of not-in-my-back-yard neighbors will oppose it.

HSI Properties has been quite active in the Milwaukee area housing market lately, with their winning bid for the East Library redevelopment project (The Standard at East Library) and their ever expanding development of The Enclave apartments (now 192 units) in Wauwatosa. – Jeramey Jannene

UPDATE: Just as this was to be published, Tom Daykin released that Fidicuary Real Estate Development, Inc. has pulled out of the development project at the former Gallun Tannery site, which is adjacent to the Pro Graphics site. The tannery site is far more complex (here’s my take on it from early 2011) with it being far larger, having greater height differences between the river and road, and a host of environmental cleanup concerns that might hinder any redevelopment project. Opus Development Corp. is still committed to the former Gallun Tannery site. I wouldn’t expect any of this to have an impact on the HSI project, but it does signal that anything on the former Gallun sight is likely a long ways off.

Not Your Typical Chain Hotel

Far too often hotel chains stamp out cookie cutter designs, regardless of whether the hotel is located in an urban environment or not.  Evidence of this can been seen in the downtown Aloft. It looks like any other Aloft in the country.  But the new Hilton Garden Inn, 611 N. Broadway, breaks this pattern and leaves the chain’s traditional design behind.  This project gives new life to an underutilized but beautiful structure by adaptively reusing a National Historic Landmark, the Loyalty Building built in 1886.

Unfortunately, the Hilton Garden Inn has been forced to quickly become engaged in neighborhood nuisance issues. Staff members raised concerns over disorder purportedly stemming from 618 Live on Water (often referred to as the Ladybug Club) at this week’s Licenses Committee.  At the meeting Ald. Bob Bauman explained to representatives of 618 the economic value that the Hilton is bringing to the neighborhood, and warned them that their crowd’s behavior could cost them if it interferes with operations of the hotel.

Also of note: ART Milwaukee has already scheduled the first ART Jamboree of 2013 to be held at the new Hilton Garden Inn. – Dave Reid

For Lease

Liliane McFarlane, our former neighbor at Urban Milwaukee: The Store, closed the retail location for her business Wafrique.  Although the bricks and mortar storefront is gone, Wafrique will continue selling handcrafted African wears online.  The retail storefront is available for lease.  Call Colby Abbot Building owner Patti Keating Kahn at 414-276-8484 for information. – Dave Reid

Last Call

Tuesday night was last call for the nightclub Sublime. It was a short, but energetic run for first time bar owners Kieran Rowe and Joel Harris. Sublime was known for bringing in house DJ’s, Vegas-style flair bartenders, and cutting-edge light shows. The location has gone through a multitude of owners in the past few years, but most remember that the party started with Euro Bar. Sublime had continued the spirit of Euro and was one of Milwaukee’s few remaining house music clubs.  Die-hard clubheads will have to wait and see what’s on tap for its next incarnation.

Molly Synder, of OnMilwaukee, recently reported that Fitzgibbons’ Pub will be closing. With the bar closing one wonders… will there be anything left holding up the long-leaning building? – Dave Reid

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