Dave Reid
Friday Photos

Inside the World’s Tallest Qdoba?

Finally there is activity in the 14-story building on Juneau and Water that's been occupied only by a Qdoba since 2008.

By - Nov 7th, 2014 06:19 pm
Rudy Malnati Jr. Photo by Dave Reid.

Rudy Malnati Jr. Photo by Dave Reid.

One of the last visible signs of the Great Recession left in downtown Milwaukee will soon be a busy hub of activity.

In 2007 DOC Milwaukee LP started construction on what was supposed to be a Staybridge Inn & Suites at the corner of N. Water St. and E. Juneau Ave.

During the summer of 2008 a Qdoba restaurant moved into the under construction building. But later that year construction came to a halt, leaving Qdoba the sole tenant in a 14-story building. Construction never restarted on the hotel and the building was soon caught up in years of lawsuits, legal proceedings, and even an FBI investigation.

In October 2013 the Milwaukee School of Engineering bought the unfinished building and has been converting it into student housing.

The first 184 students moved into 102 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments on floors four through nine just this year. Floors 10 though 14 will open in spring 2015 and have additional student apartments and conference rooms.

No longer will the failed building be known as “The World’s Tallest Qdoba,” as Dr. Hermann Viets called it during a press conference yesterday.  The conference was held to announce a new restaurant opening in the building’s long-vacant, 8,500 square-feet of first-floor retail space.

The restaurant?

Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta from Chicago plans to open in late spring 2015. Pizano’s was started by Rudy Malnati Jr. in 1991, but the family’s history with pizza dates to 1943 when his father, then the chef at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, created the “Deep Dish Pizza.” (Having grown up on Lou Malnati’s Pizza, his brother’s restaurant, I can tell you this is exciting news for Milwaukee pizza fans).

But back to the building. After the announcement Rick Gagliano, Tower Building Manager, took me on a tour to see the rest of the facility. The photos capture great views from the building’s many balconies, on-going construction, and a glimpse of one student’s studio apartment.

Photo Gallery


4 thoughts on “Friday Photos: Inside the World’s Tallest Qdoba?”

  1. Jan Pierce says:

    Good to see this piece of real estate finding a productive use and coming back to life. It was a constant reminder of a very dark time.

  2. David says:

    I think MSOE is really beginning to develop a campus environment and identity. I’m hoping, with the construction of that giant soccer field / parking lot, that they’ll focus on developing their surface lots towards the center of campus now that parking isn’t an issue anymore.

  3. Gary says:

    This is wonderful news: I knew there was a reason why my apartment building on Milwaukee’s ‘Lower East Side’ was quieter this season: the rotating crowd of MSOE twinks has a new roost! No more door slamming and loud, moronic drunken conversations in the hallway at 1-2AM; stampedes up and down the back stairs of the building as parties are let in and let out again by the back door. Thank You MSOE! I never intended to be a volunteer dorm mom, but I never shirked my duty either by calling the landlord.

    (On a more somber thought, that landlord is now stuck with overpriced rental rates for tiny studios that they can’t rent (not even with newly sanded hardwood floors and new deluxe kitchenette cabinet doors!). Yeehaa – it’s time for a floor party!

  4. Gary says:

    errata – should’ve read: ” I never intended to be a volunteer dorm mom, but I never shirked my duty by NOT calling the landlord.”

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