700 E. Kilbourn High-Rise Wins Key Approval
Proposed high-rise would add up to 275 "ultra luxury" apartments to downtown Milwaukee -- with no public financing.
The Milwaukee Common Council‘s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee granted unanimous approval today to a proposed 36-story apartment building for the northeast corner of N. Van Buren St. and E. Kilbourn Ave. The move keeps the privately financed development on track, since proposal will likely sail through the full Common Council on October 14th.
The high-rise is the first project in the Milwaukee market proposed by Carroll Properties. The Chicago firm has hired FitzGerald Associates as the project architect, who also calls Chicago home. The high rise, referred to as 700 E. Kilbourn, would have either 224 or 275 units pending a market study that’s underway, and would have 1.6 bedrooms per unit (including studio apartments).
Carroll Properties president Robert King promises the new building will offer “ultra-luxury apartments on the site that will offer our residents condo-quality finishes in every unit.” He called the site a “walk-to-everything location in beautiful downtown Milwaukee.” King also praised the support he has received from the Department of City Development and Alderman Robert Bauman on the project.
Bauman asked if there were concerns about the parking lot to the east that could block views if a new development was later built there. King said his company has had discussions about the parking lot (owned by Edgewater), but they believe their project could saturate the market for some years, so they aren’t concerned about a new high rise coming next door for at least the next five to ten years.
King’s company also controls the site across the street to the south (the empty lot that was proposed for Bookends South), as he revealed during questioning from Bauman, but don’t expect a high-rise development there for some time, given his comments on a saturated market.
There was a discussion about minority hiring, primarily between Alderman Willie Wade and the developer (which King said he was “obviously” concerned about – King himself is black), which led to a quick insult for the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors by Alderman Bohl who stated, “we don’t want to be deemed the county here.” This was likely an illusion to the recent referral back to committee of a proposal by Hammes Co. for a new downtown headquarters on a county-owned site. King, who stated for the record that he’s not seeking public financing, is not subject to any hiring requirements with the privately financed development. But Carroll Properties intends to use union labor on the site.
The tower would be built on a 28,504 square-foot site at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave. that is now occupied by two surface parking lots and an empty building that had long housed Edwardo’s pizza restaurant. The building would be demolished for thee project. The land is owned by Jim Wiechmann. New Land Enterprises, who frequently had deals involving Wiechmann, had proposed the Bookends North high-rise apartment building for the site, but was never able to secure financing.
The project was first announced in July, with a planned groundbreaking in early 2015.
Alderman Nik Kovac, never one to pass up a chance to talk about the Green Bay Packers (he hosts a weekly radio program about the team), asked the Chicago developer (and admitted Illinois sports fan) during the discussion if he thinks Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is worth the $18 million a year he’s paid. King said it remains to be seen. Cutler may be more popular in Wisconsin than Illinois, given his frequent interceptions in games against the Packers.
Renderings and Floor Plans
City Plan Commission– recommended for approval Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee– approved
- Common Council
- Mayoral approval of Common Council action
- Financing secured
- Construction permits received
- Construction begins
As discussed in our original article on the project, look for the city to approve this project as they hope for another high-rise to be under construction Downtown (in addition to Northwestern Mutual Tower and 833 East). But approval doesn’t make this project, or other proposed luxury buildings in the area, a sure thing. The market is also a concern: It will be tough to support so many new luxury buildings at the same time. So the construction of this project might impact the timelines for developments like The Couture, phase 4 of The North End and a number of other proposed developments.
The city has recently indicated public support for Rick Barrett‘s proposed The Couture (with a proposed streetcar extension), which makes it even tougher to forecast which big projects will happen. I wouldn’t bet on both The Couture and 700 E. Kilbourn happening within two years of each other.