Dave Reid
Eyes on Milwaukee

The Growing City

Updates on three new developments. Plus: a photographic tour of the Ward hall.

By - Oct 2nd, 2013 10:04 am
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VJS Construction Services trailer at the Park East Square site.

VJS Construction Services trailer at the Park East Square site.

It would be the first mixed-use residential building to be constructed in the footprint of the former Park East freeway spur.

Wangard Partners appears to be ready to break ground on such a project. The building, formerly know as Park East Square, is according to an article by Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel, now called Avenir and will break ground on Monday. Stewart Wangard told Daykin that “its location near a stop for Milwaukee’s proposed streetcar, and the continued growth of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., are among the factors that will help the development attract renters.” The $20.7 million first phase of this project will include 104 apartments and 7,000 square-feet of first floor retail. This week a VJS Construction Services construction trailer arrived on site, indicating work could begin soon;  Wangard had promised the project would break ground “before the snow flies.” A request to Wangard Partners for further information went unanswered.

This is the second time since the freeway came down that a developer seemed poised to break ground on this site. Back in April, 2008 RSC & Associates put up a construction fence on the site, bounded by N. Milwaukee St., N. Jefferson St., E Lyon St. and E. Ogden Ave., but the project never broke ground.

Michael Horne recently reported that construction of Sage on Jackson, 1509 N. Jackson St., had recently begun after a year-long delay. Michael O’Connor of Dominion Properties LLC explained to Urban Milwaukee in an email that the delay “was due to the new technology in the building,” but despite the delay the “green features were not lost…or diminished or diluted.” The 5-story, 20-unit, residential building will include a long list of green features: a 20KW solar array on the roof, a green roof, a 5,000 gallon cistern for capturing rainwater, 18 geothermal wells, LED lighting, locally sourced hardwoods, and certified sustainably harvested wood to be used in the framing of the building. Dominion Properties intends to pre-lease these units, which are planned to open in the summer of 2014.

Homes being demolished. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva.

Homes being demolished. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva.

Two homes on Oakland Ave., just north of the former Pizza Man site on North Ave., have been demolished in preparation for construction of a 4-story, 39-unit, mixed-use building. The new building will be built on the lot at the corner of Oakland and North avenues, addressed by the city as 2310 N. Oakland Ave., and the land the two homes sat on. With work already starting, the project developer, Joseph Property Development, appears confident it will receive design approval from the East Side Architectural Review Board. The project goes before the ARB again this Thursday after being held for improvements at two other meetings.

Updated Renderings of Oakland and North Project



Ward Memorial Theater Tour

Although the Journal Sentinel reported that the Ward Memorial Hall on the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center grounds would be open for tours during Doors Open Milwaukee, it was never scheduled for touring — the newspaper got it wrong. According to one tour-goer, this mistake unfortunately led to a large crowd  gathering at the building during Doors Open.

Recently I got a quick tour and status update of the Ward Memorial Hall. Built in 1881 the Ward Memorial Hall is a part of the National Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District, but much like another building on the campus, Old Main, had fallen into disrepair.

The roof on “Old Main” had failed and opened the interior of the building to the elements.  The roof on Old Main was stabilized first and now roof of the Ward Memorial Hall has also been stabilized. The renovation of the Ward Memorial Hall is in its early stages but the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center is now working towards saving this important part of our history.

Photo Gallery

Quick Hits

  • Another week, another Help Wanted ad.  Are you good with numbers? If so Walnut Way is looking to hire a part-time accountant.
  • A great way to support a healthy future is coming up soon. You can join with children from all over the world in walking and biking to school in celebration of International Walk to School Day, Wednesday October 9th. More information is available by clicking here.
  • Apparently the restaurant / bar 8-Twelve, formerly owned by House Confidential honoree Ryan Braun and Aaron Rodgers, won’t become a juice bar. Guess I was wrong on that one.

6 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: The Growing City”

  1. Tom D says:

    The streetcar is starting to pay off. “Avenir”, at Ogden and Jefferson is being built, at least in part, because the site is near the streetcar line; the developer says as much.

    The first phase of this project (104 apartments and 7,000 sq ft of retail) will cost $20.7 million, and its real estate taxes should cover about 10% of the City’s annual streetcar operating subsidy.

    Some people have asked why buses can’t be used instead of the streetcar. This project is an example why. Milwaukee has had rubber-tire “trolleys” for many years, and NOBODY has ever built anything along its route citing the rubber-tire trolley as a reason for investing.

    The City has said that if the streetcar generates $205 million in new taxable real estate investment, the added real estate taxes would exceed the $1.85 million annual operating subsidy (for the first 2.1 miles of streetcar). The City is already 10% of the way there, even before the streetcar has broken ground.

  2. Chris says:

    Looks like we’re going to have to settle for mediocrity at the corner of North and Oakland. Completely soul-less design.

  3. Sheldon says:

    I would like to echo Tom D’s highlighting of the Connector route. Believe it, it’s real. I also want to thank Wangard for their leadership and trail blazing. CARW is working on the Park East area and is preparing to accelerate the progress, Wangard’s project will certainly keep the momentum going. Special shout out to Barry Mandel and the North End. Turning the north side of downtown Milwaukee into a high demand neighborhood! New people downtown are catalysts. Exciting.

  4. Shorehood says:

    I feel sorry for anyone dealing with Mike O’Connor and Dominion Properties. I rented from them in “lovely” west Shorewood (take your chances, people) for years and dealt with the staff’s poor customer service and lack of concern for tenants’ living conditions. Every time it rained significantly, the basement hallway leaked rainwater that was rarely ever mopped up. Disgusting and a hazard. The great flood of 2010? Yeah… huge patches of mold everywhere in the basement and relatively no cleanup. I started wearing a particle mask whenever I went down to do my laundry. Doing some masonry work on the building, hey? Don’t even imagine cleaning up the dust that entered tenants’ units through the literally rotten windows. I was given a Shop Vac and told to clean it up myself, and I wound up coughing up blood due to inhaling brick dust. They even shut off the water to the entire buidling on a Sunday afternoon and told us to wait until Monday–it’d be fixed then because their plumber was out of town. Good luck to anyone in his/her business dealings with these folks. Their reply to me (or any posts that I’ve ever made) are that I am lying (and I have every email I ever exchanged with them, along with saved text messages and a spreadsheet of maintenance requests) and that it was “time for me to move out.” And how. What a life lesson. Good luck to the new lambs choosing to rent from them.

  5. Justin says:

    Did the apartments on the former pizza man site pass the ARB?

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