New Grand Avenue Apartments
Plankinton Arcade becoming apartments is significant step in mall's transformation.
Very quietly the owners of the Shops of Grand Avenue are setting about transforming the downtown mall. Perhaps the most visible sign of those changes currently is the redevelopment of a portion of the Plankinton Arcade building into high-end apartments.
Big plans for the mall, owned by a partnership of The Aggero Group and Hempel Companies, were first unveiled in April 2016. The plans, drawn up by architecture firm TKWA UrbanLab, envision the mall becoming a true community hub with a mix of uses beyond retail, including a first-floor food hall, open-concept office space and a grocery store.
The apartments, which will occupy the second floor of the Plankinton building, are being developed in space most recently used for offices by groups like NEWaukee and Bucketworks. Today the floor-to-ceiling windows lining the skywalk are covered in brown paper as crews work to prep the space. The units will have direct skywalk access.
The Kubala Washatko Architects UrbanLab arm, which is leading the redesign of the mall complex, is also designing the apartments. The apartments, estimated to cost $10 million to develop, will be located along W. Wisconsin Ave. between N. 2nd St. and N. Plankinton Ave. For mall regulars, that places them above the TJ Maxx and former Linens ‘N Things space.
The apartments won’t be the first in the complex, or even the building. Developer Kendall Breunig owns the third floor and a portion of fifth floor in the Plankinton Arcade building and has developed apartments in former office space. UW-Milwaukee and the YMCA also occupy space on upper floors in the building. The Plankinton building is owned by a number of different parties, with the mall occoupying of the lower two floors in the seven-story building.
Developer Gorman & Co. owns the 135-unit Majestic Lofts, which is in a separate building that connects to the mall. The Mandel Group also owns the Boston Lofts in the complex, with 74 units on the upper four floors of the Boston Store building on the mall’s west end.
The development conforms with existing zoning for the city and did not require any public hearings.
Aggero and Hempel acquired the complex, including the attached parking structure, in December 2015 for $24.5 million.
City records indicate the Plankinton Arcade building was originally constructed in 1916. A five-story addition to the two-story arcade building was added in 1924.