Aperture Apartments Nearing Completion
Five floors, 168 apartments, a Fresh Thyme store and a cool, curving building.
The building at 1635 N. Water St. is the third of four projects in the Mandel Group’s ambitious, multi-block redevelopment plan known as The North End. Phase three started in July 2014 with a demolition of an old building on the site and the groundbreaking ceremony took place on October 13th, 2014. From the looks of our photos, the project is nearing completion as it approaches its scheduled opening late this year.
The building is a five-story, 168-unit apartment complex and will be known as Aperture Apartments. It will also include the 29,500 square-foot Fresh Thyme Farmers Market grocery store (opening in April 2016) complete with underground heated parking and a cartilator for shopping carts. My colleague Jeramey Jannene reported that when finished, tenants in the apartment complex will be offered “a fitness center and yoga studio, a private clubroom, an internet café, a pet grooming and wash room, a bicycle repair facility, a recycling center and a car wash station” as well as easy access to a Bublr Bikes bike station near the former Pfister & Vogel Tannery water tower at the southeast corner of the site. A 17-vehicle parking lot is also included because of an easement in place with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.
According to a press release, the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market offers a variety of fresh, organic produce and health-oriented products. In fact, 50 percent of the food in the store is fresh and perishable. Also available are vitamin and dietary supplements, body care products and beer and wine. The company already has 60 stores and has grown quickly from its initial launch into the Midwest in five years. It recently announced its second store in the metro area, in Brookfield along the Bluemound Road corridor.
As my colleague Michael Horne has written, the area between the Milwaukee River and N. Water St. north of Downtown used to be “blighted” and “underdeveloped.” Mandel Group’s involvement wasn’t until 2001 when then-Mayor John O. Norquist asked Mandel Group President Barry Mandel if he wanted to buy the site as well as the former Pfister & Vogel Tannery.
Since then, the company has invested $53 million in the project, which includes $36 million in what Mandel calls “extremely complex financing.” The funding includes $10.5 million in New Market Tax Credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, which will go towards the grocery store. As part of the arrangement for the tax credits, Mandel Group and WHEDA contributed to the Walnut Way Conservation Corp. and Marquette University’s Associates in Commercial Real Estate program. The credits were purchased by US Bank Community Development Corporation. BMO Harris Bank provided debt financing.
Funding also includes the Park East tax incremental financing district’s contribution of $8 million in public and private infrastructure, which will go towards the construction of a new 420-foot addition to the RiverWalk and environmental remediation.
Mandel Group is partnering with HGA Architects & Engineers to serve as the project architect with Ray Hintz General Contractors handling construction. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is represented by Nicolas P. Tice of Commercial Property Associates, Inc. and Andy Robbins of ARCORE Real Estate Group.