Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Continuum Moves to Watts Building

Architecture and planning firm buys classic downtown building, plans to renovate it.

By - Apr 11th, 2019 03:58 pm
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George Watts and Sons Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

George Watts and Sons Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Continuum Architects + Planners is putting down roots in downtown Milwaukee. The 23-year-old firm has purchased the two-story building at 761 N. Jefferson St., long associated with the Watts Tea Shop.

The award-winning firm has taken on a variety of projects in recent years, many involving historic preservation. It led the design for the redevelopment of the historic Mackie and Mitchell buildings by J. Jeffers & Co., the Legacy Lofts affordable housing project in the former Blommer Ice Cream Factory and the Welford Sanders Lofts. It also redesigned Moody Park for Milwaukee County.

The tea shop/restaurant and china store closed in 2016, converting to an online-only business. It had been in the building since 1929, having operated out of other downtown buildings in the preceding decades.

Continuum, a 17-person architecture firm, acquired the building for $1.5 million and is planning to renovate the space. A cost for the renovation, which would be financed with historic preservation tax credits the firm has specialized in, is being finalized.

The building, known as the George Watts and Sons Building, was built in the Mediterranean Revival style by Martin Tullgren & Sons architects in 1925 according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. It features large bay windows and an ornate terracotta facade.

The 15,360-square-foot building was assessed for $1.37 million in 2018.

Continuum, led by partners Bob Barr, Falamak Nourzad, Corey Lapworth and Michael Soto, will relocate to the building from its office in the Mitchell Building on E. Michigan St. With the move it will also promote Vaishali Wagh to partner. The veteran architect and Master Potter has been with the firm since 2007 and is viewed as part of the next generation of the firm’s leadership.

As part of the redevelopment, Kesslers Diamonds jewelry store will continue to operate in the building. An additional 5,000 square foot commercial space remains available for lease.

George Watts and Sons Building

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