Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Historic Broadway Buildings Will Be Reclaimed

Another historic project for David Uihlein, redoing three buildings built in 1900.

By - Jul 3rd, 2018 03:01 pm
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627-637 Broadway Project. Images from Uihlein/Wilson Ramlow/Stein.

627-637 Broadway Project. Images from Uihlein/Wilson Ramlow/Stein.

David Uihlein, operating as District Savior LLC, has started the long-anticipated redevelopment of a row of commercial buildings on N. Broadway just south of E. Wisconsin Ave.

Workers from Waukesha-based general contractor Stier Construction have been diligently scraping away decades of alterations to the three buildings that run from 627 to 637 N. Broadway.

The three two-story buildings will be redeveloped with a unified, historically sensitive facade, but not one that exactly matches what the buildings originally looked like when they were built in 1900. As Uihlein’s 2017 application to the Historic Preservation Commission states: “Over time these buildings have been substantially modified such that there is no surviving historic fabric to preserve.”

The redeveloped buildings will include space for six tenants, including three storefront spaces. According to city records, the buildings contain a combined 9,575 square-feet of space.

Uihlein, whose firm Uihlein/Wilson – Ramlow/Stein is doing the architectural work, has owned the buildings since at least 2013 according to city records. He’ll have no problem monitoring progress on the site, with the firm’s offices being located around the corner at 322 E. Michigan St.

He told Urban Milwaukee in 2017 that the timing was right for redevelopment given the substantial growth of Downtown and the impending opening of The Hop streetcar line. A southbound station for the streetcar line is located immediately in front of the three buildings.

Both the three-building redevelopment project and the Uihlein/Wilson offices are located in the East Side Commercial Historic District. The locally-designated historic district mandates design guidelines for the area, something that Uihlein has shown up to support when other nearby property owners have proposed renovations or demolition.

The project will be a significant step forward for a key downtown intersection. The buildings have looked pretty  dilapidated for years, especially after a temporary wood covering was removed. The area around them has also begun to see more life with the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn in the Loyalty Building, Downtown Books relocating to 624 N. Broadway and a Pita Pit opening in the long-vacant first-floor of the Railway Exchange Building.

This isn’t Uihlein’s only downtown reclamation project. The philanthropist and his wife recently made headlines for his significant (but undisclosed) gift to redevelop the Warner Grand Theatre into a music hall for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Photos and Rendering

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7 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Historic Broadway Buildings Will Be Reclaimed”

  1. TransitRider says:

    This is a prime example of why the streetcar is better than a bus on the same route, and how the streetcar’s much-maligned inflexibility is actually an asset.

    Before the streetcar, it was very difficult to get bank loans to rehab or open stores in older buildings without parking. The streetcar will link these buildings to tens of thousands of downtown parking spaces, thereby making the buildings viable (in the eyes of banks).

    While a bus could also connect these buildings to parking, the bus’s inherent flexibility is a liability here. The banks know the inflexible streetcar will run past these buildings for decades to come, while they have no similar assurance of future bus service.

  2. Mike Lewitzke says:

    Was the Stone Toad in that location “back in the day”?
    Thanks,
    mike

  3. Paul Haubrich says:

    Kudos for David Uihlein, these buildings were an eyesore. I give tours for Historic Milwaukee and people are always bothered by these buildings and nothing happening. Progress can be slow, but this was necessary to make the street and general area look much better. Now about the ugly monster across the street.

    Paul

  4. michael says:

    Between this and Jeffers’ “S Block”, a lot is coming together on Broadway. Will be exciting to see it evolve in the next couple years.

  5. Rita says:

    Thank you for rehabe vs tear-down…

    Ugh on the bank and streetcar….again, money rules…
    I think I’ll live long enough to see ONCE AGAIN that the streetcar will not be around very long.

  6. Gary says:

    As P. Haubrich notes, that site has been an eyesore, and for about a decade now. Most of the east side of that block has been an eyesore for multiple decades. All of that neglect by property owners while the old NML building (Broadway @ Michigan) was beautifully rehabbed and repurposed. Makes you wonder about the tax benefits of neglect and how they’re used / abused in MKE.

    The Railway Exchange Bldg., next door to this article’s subject, had the retail sandwhich shop crapitechture removed from the first floor, but the very top still suffers from a really bad snip job. Old photos in the mpl.org online digital collection show the original construction in excellent detail. Modern renovation has left it incomplete at best, neglectful of the historic city scape at worst.

  7. David says:

    Maybe if we run the streetcar by Powers Jewelry store, they’ll fix that monster up. Yuck

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