Council Passes Gettelman Deal That Will Save One Building, Demolish Others
MillerCoors will demolish historic brewery structures featured prominently in their marketing.
Save a single building, all of the remaining unrenovated Gettelman Brewery buildings will be razed. On Tuesday morning the Milwaukee Common Council passed a compromise historic designation that allows MillerCoors to demolish or relocate the historic structures at 4400 W. State St. to create more space for parking.
MillerCoors is seeking to raze the buildings, which are featured in the logo for Icehouse beer, as part of their “State Street Yard Reconfiguration Project.” Among other efficiency improvements in the project, the brewing giant intends to turn land occupied by the historic structures into 70 employee parking spaces.
The building that is proposed to be saved will be relocated across W. State St. to the south side of the street. That will place the structure, a house-turned-office dating back to 1856, near the brewery’s visitor center. A future use for the facility has yet to be identified. MillerCoors will need to apply to the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness to move the building.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission had earlier this year approved a permanent historic designation for the complex. However, Tuesday’s action by the council, which was triggered by an appeal by MillerCoors, overrules the preservation commission’s designation.
Alderman Nik Kovac opposed the compromise proposal at committee, noting “I don’t think I’ve seen a worse case made for economic hardship. The hardship is employee convenience.” He argued that the matter should be held and MillerCoors should return to the Historic Preservation Commission with the compromise. “Why would you not at least want the experts to give us a recommendation on the nuances of a complicated proposal?” Kovac asked. He was the lone dissenting vote on the committee, with the measure passing 4-to-1.
The measure unanimously passed the full Common Council, with Kovac noting in an interview with Urban Milwaukee that voting against the approved amendment at council wouldn’t have helped preserve any of the buildings. Ald. Robert Bauman, who sits on the preservation commission and voted for the permanent designation, also voted for the compromise measure.
The compromise proposal by MillerCoors was supported by Ald. Michael Murphy, whose district encompasses the Gettelman buildings, and Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II, whose district includes the majority of the brewery.
According to a historic designation study by city staffer Carlen Hatala, Fritz Gettelman, who became president of the brewery in 1929, invented a number of innovations in the home, including a steam brush bottle washer, glass lined storage container, ice cutter and farm tillage machine.
The larger of the two buildings served as a malt house for Gettelman and was later used as a warehouse by Miller. It has been vacant for a number of years. A beer cellar, used before modern refrigeration was invented, is located beneath the building. That building, along with a 1940’s addition to the home, may now be demolished by MillerCoors.
The company has adaptively reused three other former Gettelman buildings as a fitness center, company store and warehouse. Miller Brewing acquired the neighboring Gettelman in 1961 and fully merged the brewery into their operations in 1970.
The original nomination for the complex’s designation came from preservation advocate and Amaranth Bakery owner Dave Boucher after MillerCoors applied to demolish the structures.
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More about the Gettelman Brewery Buildings
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Passes Gettelman Deal That Will Save One Building, Demolish Others - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 27th, 2017
- Miller Compromises on Gettelman Brewery - Graham Kilmer - Sep 21st, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Gettelman Buildings Saved for Now - Jeramey Jannene - May 16th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Gettelman Brewery Buildings Saved - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 25th, 2017
- Op Ed: Save the Gettelman Brewery Buildings - Leonard P. Jurgensen - Apr 20th, 2017