New Apartment Building Coming to the Third Ward
Two developers partner up for a new building that is going to have a very odd shape.
Fresh off opening a new apartment building, General Capital Group is moving to create more apartments across the street. The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design has sold their fire-damaged student union (the fire occurred January 2nd, 2013), a surface parking lot and an adjacent building to a joint venture of General Capital Group and Joseph Property Development. That joint venture intends to demolish the two historically-designated buildings and construct a new apartment building.
The new building would be designed by Matt Rinka and his firm Rinka Chung Architecture. Rinka and his namesake firm are rising stars in the Milwaukee architectural community with three large projects downtown in the past five years. Rinka designed Barrett Visionary‘s apartment and condo tower The Moderne, the under construction office building dubbed the Pabst Professional Center by Blue Ribbon Management and Barrett Visionary’s proposed The Couture. In the Historic Third Ward, Rinka Chung is also the architecture firm behind Cafe Benelux, a Lowlands Group restaurant with a unique rooftop deck.
The site, bordered by E. Menomonee St, N. Broadway, and E. Erie St., has a number of quirks that are likely to influence the design of the building.
- The eastern edge of the site (including the building formerly occupied by Utrecht/Blick Art Supply at 143 N. Broadway) is directly on Catalano Square. It’s not separated by a street (Broadway becomes part of the park as a plaza), so the building will have to be designed to interact with the park on its entire eastern face. The lack of an alley will prevent the building from having a backside where things can be hidden (dumpsters, parking entrance, mechanical equipment, etc, etc).
- The western edge of the site comes to a sharp point, the inside point of a V-shaped intersection. That point will induce a unique design for the Third Ward, be it one of Rinka’s signature rounded corners or a harder point like that found in the Park Lafayette Apartments. It also might present an opportunity to reconfigure the unnecessarily large intersection of E. Menomonee St. and E. Erie St., something that Sig Strautmanis referenced is coming as part of Two50Two.
- The lot comes to another point on its southern edge, although at a much more manageable intersection of E. Erie St., N. Young St., and N. Broadway.
- The footprint of the building will be fairly small. The three combined parcels total 8,119 square-feet. For comparison’s sake, the new Two50Two apartments are on a 22,183 square-foot lot.
- The final challenge is the Lofts on the Park condominiums (147 N. Broadway and 273 E. Menomonee St). The four-story, four-unit condominium building is in a converted 1911 warehouse that occupies the northeast corner of the site. General Capital and Joseph did not acquire this building for their project. The new building would need to wrap this building. Thankfully, the Lofts on the Park building is oriented north and east, so only a couple windows will face thee potential new building.
Developers’ History with MIAD
Both developers are no stranger to working with MIAD to create apartments.
Robert Joseph recently completed the conversion of the Eisner Building (former home of the Eisner Advertising Museum and former MIAD residence hall) to apartments. That building was sold to Joseph by MIAD. The Eisner Building is now known as the Chicago Street Lofts and contains 30 apartments. MIAD had acquired the building in 1994 when it was known as the Cawker Estate Building and converted it to the museum and residence hall. The building was built in 1895.
Joseph is no stranger to development in the Historic Third Ward. The firm owns a number of Third Ward properties including Jackson Square Apartments, Lofts on Broadway condos, Warehouse 525 condos, Gas & Light Building, The Landmark Building, 301 Commission Row, Beck Carlton Building and Firehouse, and Riverview Lofts apartments. They’re also building The Overlook on Prospect and 1800 E. North Ave. apartment buildings on Milwaukee’s East Side.
The proposed building will need to be approved by the Historic Third Ward Architectural Review Board. The proposal is likely to see significantly more scrutiny during this process because of the unapproved changes made by General Capital Group during the construction of the new MIAD apartment building.
The developers are also proposing to demolish two buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places (143 N. Broadway, built in 1902 and 266 E. Erie St., the MIAD union, built in 1892). It remains to be seen if anyone will oppose this. The development team will need to appear before the Historic Preservation Commission to demolish the properties. The parking lot itself isn’t historically significant (it’s hard to imagine a parking lot that would be), but it was the site of pizza being introduced to Milwaukee. The Caradaro Club opened in a three-story building on the site of the parking lot in 1945 (the building was destroyed by fire in 1978).