Michael Horne
Friday Photos

Posner Renovation Kicks Off

Our photos capture a new start for an old building.

By - Oct 10th, 2014 06:10 pm

On Wednesday, Mayor Tom Barrett and other officials held a “ceremonial toast” to the redevelopment of the Posner Building on Wednesday at Mo’s Irish Pub, 142 W. Wisconsin Ave.

They were joined by Reed Hall, CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Kevin Fischer of the Milwaukee office of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, developer Joe Klein, Sean O’Brien, director of underwriting for WHEDA and Johnny Vassallo, owner of Mo’s Irish Pub, the only current tenant of the 108,334 square foot, 7-story, 106 year old building at the northwest corner of W. Wisconsin and N. Plankinton avenues.

But that will soon change. The old commercial structure will be completely renovated by HKS Holdings in conjunction with nonprofit equity partner Impact Seven, and will have over 100 apartments and new street level retail, said Klein. Engberg Anderson is the architect of record

As the mayor spoke, workers from KBS Construction installed scaffolding and fencing around the perimeter of the white terracotta structure, where gargoyles overlook the entrance at 158 W. Wisconsin Ave. The building enjoys an impressive 200-foot frontage on the city’s principal thoroughfare.

The $20-$25 million project — over $200,000 per unit — will include a first mortgage, state historic tax credits and grants of $14 million along with a $2.5 million developer financed Tax Incremental District from the city.

The mayor recalled once being at an event across the street at the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education, which occupies the 6th and 7th floors of that building. “As I was there, I looked across the street at this phenomenal building with nothing upstairs,” and decided something must be done.

He gave credit to restaurateur Vassallo, whose pub opened in 1999 in a former bank space. “John breathed a lot of life into the first floor, but this is a big, historic building and it is hard to do more,” hence the government assistance, and outside developers.

Barrett says the construction will “further the economic development on W. Wisconsin Ave.” and gave him the opportunity to say “let’s do something dramatic.”

The announcement came two days after Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch announced tax credits for the residential development of the Germania Building, located to the north on the same block.

Milwaukee is currently “experiencing droves of young people who want to be in this city, particularly downtown,” Barrett said. “Instead of turning a shovel, we’ll do a toast.” A waitress served the assembled dignitaries pints of Guinness.

Ceremonial Toast

3 thoughts on “Friday Photos: Posner Renovation Kicks Off”

  1. dlr says:

    I’m curious how anyone thinks it is viable to have apartments above Mo’s Irish Pub. It is an incredibly loud bar. How will ground level retail survive with tour bus and semi trailer parking from the Riverside almost daily along Plankinton Ave? I do not belive the developers thought this through.
    The city will have to prevent the Riverside from parking along the street. They grant temporary parking rights to the Riverside weekly. The pub has live bands and just the volume of music they blast outside will make living there intolerable.

  2. Johnny Vassallo says:

    I lived in the area for 10 years and have businesses there for over 15 years.
    The area is amazing!! Restaurants, river walk, theater. It’s vibrant, with lots of action and yes noise, probably not much different than living in Manhatten. That seems to work for over 12 million people there :).

    The theater has been well over 75 years. This is definitely not a sleepy suburban or farm community.

    I believe there will be plenty of young and young minded people who will be exited to live here!!
    Including me, I will be leasing a unit as soon as they will let me.

    It’s a little sad to me that so many people think the universe revolves around them selves. What they like or they prefer is the only way.
    Unfortunately they can’t just be happy this building is going to be repurposed, made vibrant in an exciting energy filled community.

    Live where you to like, be happy!! 🙂

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Johnny V Agreed. This is great news. Adding new residents to Westown is just what the area needs. And you are right there are many people who will love living there.

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