Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Breaking Ground for Five Fifty Ultra Lofts

Project is a major milestone for the city, Bucks and local bucks.

By - May 16th, 2018 02:41 pm
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From left to right - John Daniels, Stephen Waclawski of Royal Capital, Jeff Lawrence of Walker & Dunlop, Donsia Strong Hill of LISC, Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, Mayor Tom Barrett, developer Kevin Newell, Bucks president Peter Feigin, Roger Kamau from the Bucks, Mike Krolczwk from CD Smith, Mark Linser of Engberg Anderson and Terrell J. Walter of Royal Capital. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

From left to right – John Daniels, Stephen Waclawski of Royal Capital, Jeff Lawrence of Walker & Dunlop, Donsia Strong Hill of LISC, Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, Mayor Tom Barrett, developer Kevin Newell, Bucks president Peter Feigin, Roger Kamau from the Bucks, Mike Krolczwk from CD Smith, Mark Linser of Engberg Anderson and Terrell J. Walter of Royal Capital. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A key piece of the Milwaukee Bucks plan to transform downtown Milwaukee is moving forward, and it has nothing to do with basketball.

Developer Kevin Newell and his firm Royal Capital Group held a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday morning for their arena district apartment project, now known as the Five Fifty Ultra Lofts. The $25-million project, located at 550 W. Juneau Ave., sits on a slim, triangular lot along N. 6th St. immediately west of the new arena parking garage.

The six-story building, originally known as Park 7 Lofts, will include 112 apartments and two first-floor commercial stalls with a combined 13,000 square feet of space. Royal Capital has commitments from two local firms for the spaces but has yet to announce tenants. Amenities in the project include a rooftop deck and fitness center.

The project is a first in a lot of ways. It’s the first housing development directly in the footprint of the former Park East Freeway west of the river. It’s the first project built in the arena district that isn’t connected to game-day activities. And it’s the first project in the arena district where the Bucks or a team real-estate affiliate isn’t the lead developer.

Newell, making one of many basketball references used in the ceremony, told the audience “none of this comes together without great, talented teammates.” He thanked the Bucks for selecting his firm’s proposal from the many submitted for the site. Among the other “teammates” Newell thanked were his coworkers, Engberg Anderson Architects for the project’s design, CD Smith for the building’s construction, finance firm Walker & Dunlop for the project’s financing, Donsia Strong Hill of LISC and Carla Cross for coordinating the construction participation of disadvantaged firms and unemployed city residents.

Bucks president Peter Feigin praised Newell in his brief remarks. Feigin, who has grown quite adept at describing a vision for an active neighborhood around the new arena, noted that the project is a key piece of creating “a vibrant, diverse place in the middle of the city where there was nothing.” A firm affiliated with the Bucks is an investor in the project.

Mayor Tom Barrett likewise joined in praising Newell and complimented the Bucks on fulfilling their promises to the city. He added that he is proud the project will comply with hiring targets for unemployed or underemployed city residents and city-certified small business enterprises. The city was able to mandate the hiring practices because the arena district development, in particular the parking garage that the apartments will cover, is funded with a city-created tax-incremental financing district. “We are more connected to this project than nearly any other project,” joked Barrett.

“This new area will not only be a place for people to play, for people to work, but for people to live. Can you imagine having an arena in your backyard?” asked area Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs in her remarks.

Coggs raised a sobering point during her remarks as well. The Five Fifty project will only be the second downtown building owned by an African-American developer. The other is the recently completed redevelopment of the Germania Building by Kalan Haywood‘s firm Haywood Group and Cardinal Capital Management.

The project is scheduled to be completed in spring 2019. The arena is scheduled to open later this summer.

In an interview after the ceremony, Newell said that early plans to include affordable housing in the development haven’t come to fruition yet, but that it’s something his firm is always exploring.

Renderings

Site Photos and Plans

Other Royal Capital Projects

The developer says his firm is re-evaluating aspects of their The Hills Luxury Commons proposal for Brewers Hill due a softening in the market, but still hopes to break ground this year on the proposal.

The firm is moving full speed ahead on the Mill Road Library redevelopment. A groundbreaking for that mixed-use project, located at 7717 W. Good Hope Rd., is expected in the coming weeks.

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2 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Breaking Ground for Five Fifty Ultra Lofts”

  1. Mandi says:

    I predict the metal-panel exterior design of these new apartment buildings will look cheap and dated in just a few years. How about brick?

  2. Tony says:

    What makes a Loft “ULTRA”? Sounds like a way to simply jack up the prices so people can say they “live the ultra life”.

    ” Can you imagine having an arena in your backyard?” thank goodness no or I’d have to move ASAP!

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