Big Changes at The Brewery
Once-abandoned Pabst brewery has become active neighborhood
It’s been twenty years since Pabst Brewing called it quits at their Downtown Milwaukee brewery. Ten years ago the complex was still a collection of empty buildings, with papers left strewn about on desks, indicating just how abruptly the brewery closed its doors.
Things are a whole lot different today. Under the guidance of Zilber Ltd., the abandoned brewery has become an active neighborhood with a mix of restored and newly constructed buildings. The broken glass and chain-link fences have been replaced by bioswales and immaculately restored buildings.
From Church to Brewery
The project hit a milestone a few weeks ago, when Zilber Vice President emeritus Mike Mervis made what he said was a final appearance before the city’s Historic Preservation Committee to secure design approval for the building’s last-to-be-redeveloped historic building. That building, originally built as the First German Methodist Church, was last used as a training center by Pabst. Ironically, the brewing giant, under new ownership, is reopening the facility as a micro-brewery for some of their lesser-known recipes.
Apartment Project Underway
Another long-anticipated project is underway at The Brewery. Whitestone Realty Capital will convert the former malt house and malt elevator buildings into 118 market-rate apartments. The project, which was originally approved in 2014, has been anticipated for years, with the development team originally proposing it as senior housing.
The buildings date back as far back as 1882 and contain a combined 158,500 square-feet of space. They’re instantly recognizable to many as Building 24 (the malt house) serves as the southern anchor of the gigantic Pabst sign that straddles W. Juneau Ave. Building 25, the malt elevator, is a narrow building that stands between the former church and the significantly larger malt house. Work is underway on both to restore the brick-covered windows and clear out the interior.
For more on this project, see my 2014 article on the project’s approval.
New Park Planned as Another Project Nears Completion
A student housing project is nearly complete on the southern end of The Brewery. The former bottling house (Building 29), built in 1889, is being converted to student apartments known as Eleven25 at Pabst. At 237,000 square-feet it’s no small project, and will include space for up to 400 students when complete. It’s being developed by a partnership between Blue Ribbon Management and Zilber. The project is financed in part by the EB-5 program, which allows foreign nationals to obtain green cards in exchange for job-creating investments in targeted areas. Architecture firm HGA is leading the project’s design under the watchful eye of partner Jim Shields.
When complete the project will include five restaurants and other amenities intended to serve the neighborhood. The building is expected to open in August and is currently accepting applications.
Completing the block, a new park is planned for the space immediately east of the building at the southeast corner of W. Juneau Ave. and N. 10th St. Dubbed Preservation Park, the park will honor the brewery’s history with historical artifacts embedded in 12-inch deep boxes embedded in the ground. Construction is expected to begin this summer.
Other Projects at The Brewery
A substantial number of projects have been completed at The Brewery.
- The Pabst Professional Center office building is complete and has attracted a number of tenants, including recently profiled SafeNet Consulting and a satellite office for Pabst Brewing.
- Streetscaping work has been completed that gives W. Juneau Ave. a layout very similar to Broadway in the Historic Third Ward.
- The Frederick Lofts (new construction), Brewery Point Apartments (new construction) and Blue Ribbon Lofts (adaptive reuse) apartment buildings have been completed.
- Cardinal Stritch University (adaptive reuse) and the UW-Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health (adaptive reuse and new construction) both have a significant presence in the neighborhood. Cardinal Stritch, which occupies the Research Lab building, is looking to sublease their space as part of changes at the university.
- Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, a bar and hall, has opened a second hall known as the Great Hall.
- The Brewhouse Inn and Suites hotel and attached Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub seem to do a brisk business.
- The LEED Gold certified parking garage opened in 2009 with 908 stalls.
- The former boiler house (Building 10) is now the Boiler House Office Building and has been open since 2008.
- Zilber Park is open, honoring the legacy of Joseph and Vera Zilber.
- Milwaukee Brewing Company is working to open a brewery in the former Shipping Center (Building 42), originally built in 1970.