Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

New Apartments Near Streetcar Line

Plus: Where does the Strauss deal stand? State office building moving forward.

By - Oct 20th, 2019 02:37 pm
Avenir Phase 2. Rendering by AG Architecture.

Avenir Phase 2. Rendering by AG Architecture.

After years of delay, the second phase of a Lower East Side apartment complex could be moving forward. The Avenir apartment complex could have two more buildings by 2022 under a proposal by a Seattle area developer.

A partnership of developer Richard Curto and Wangard Partners proposes to sell the remaining land in the block bounded by E. Lyon St., N. Jefferson St., E. Ogden Ave. and N. Milwaukee St. to Weidner Investment Services. The partners previously sold the first building, the 104-unit Avenir, to Weidner for $22.7 million in December 2018.

The Kirkland, WA-based firm would develop two buildings on the sloped block, the first starting in April, with 146 total apartments.  The two buildings are scheduled to be completed in November 2022.

The site, formerly at the eastern end of the now-demolished Park East Freeway spur, is privately owned but governed by a 2012 development agreement with Milwaukee County. That agreement would be replaced by a new deal pending before the county. Weidner would be required to post a $250,000 letter of credit to guarantee the new agreement’s completion. The county would also maintain a purchase option to repurchase the land at a declining cost.

Weidner, according to a report submitted to the county, is the 15th largest owner of apartments in the United States and first overall in 12 states. The firm owns 52,624 units. It has investments in 12 US markets, including Milwaukee. The report states that one percent of the firm’s units are located in the Milwaukee market.

In addition to Avenir, the firm also owns the nearby River House apartment complex, Latitude near E. North Ave. and a host of northwest side complexes. All have been acquired in recent years.

An easement for future transit service to the site, be it a bus stop and shelter, streetcar station or bike share dock would be held by the county as part of the proposal. The site is one block west of The Hop’s Ogden/Jackson stations.

As part of the revised deal, the original development team will pay Milwaukee County $100,000 in compensation for lost property tax revenue and expenses related to a failure to move forward with the second phase.

Plans submitted to the county include buildings designed by AG Architecture that mirror the design of the complex’s first building.

The site is located one block north of the proposed Convent Hill South luxury and affordable housing tower.

Avenir and Site Plan

Support for Strauss Deal Twists and Turns

What once seemed like a slam dunk now seems like a hail mary, to mix my sports metaphors.

Franklin-based Strauss Brands is seeking to relocate to the city by building a new meat harvesting facility and office building in Century City. It would be the first major employer to establish a permanent home in the development zone and could receive up to $4.5 million in incentives if 500 jobs are created over the next 20 years.

After two public hearings, the deal had generated no public opposition.

Monday opened with a report that over 60 letters were submitted to the Common Council in opposition to the deal. By Tuesday, when the council was scheduled to vote on the deal, over 100 letters were in and a couple dozen opponents showed up at City Hall to protest the deal. The Common Council sent it back to committee for another public hearing.

Thursday, the board of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) approved a land-use change to support the deal.

But the real bombshell came on Friday, with Alderman Khalif Rainey, in whose district the facility would be built, coming out against the proposal. Rainey had spoken strongly in favor of the deal and against protestors on Tuesday.

The proposal could next be heard at the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee meeting on October 29th. Rainey chairs that council committee.

Could State Deal Unlock 27th and Wisconsin?

The delayed replacement for the state office building at N. 6th St. and W. Wells St. could be moving forward and, in turn, unlock a wave of redevelopment N. 27th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. Republicans stripped the proposal, originally advanced by former Governor Scott Walker, from the state budget earlier this year.

Near West Side Partners has spent the past few years assembling a full block of land at the southwest corner of W. Wisconsin Ave. and N. 27th St. A host of development projects, including the redevelopment of the vacant Wisconsin Avenue School located across W. Wisconsin Ave. into a hotel, are expected to be triggered if the office building is developed on the site.

And baby steps are being taken towards that proposal. The Department of Administration has an open request for proposals for a site to develop a new office building on. Tom Daykin was the first to report the news.

Department secretary Joel Brennan expected the Near West Side Partners and other entities to bid, with the state buying the site before the current budget expires in 2021. Scoring for the responses includes the explicit criteria of “catalyst for neighborhood revitalization.” Brennan expressed support for funding the building’s construction in the next biennial budget.

Apartment Building Planned for Walker’s Point Site

David Winograd‘s investment group, LCM Funds, is planning another Walker’s Point apartment building.

The firm purchased a surface lot at 120-138 E. Oregon St. It could combine the lot with an office building it owns adjacent to the lot.

“It’s one of the last good, big chunks available, and it made sense to buy it with everything going on there,” Founders 3 principal Scott Revolinski told Sean Ryan this week. The firm represented LCM for the transaction.

LCM purchased the property from a limited liability company registered to Michael Dilworth for $800,000 according to state records.

Robert Joseph is planning an apartment building on the northwest corner of the block.

Convention Center Expansion Seeking Vendors

The $300 million expansion of the Wisconsin Center will soon have a host of named vendors. The Wisconsin Center District is issuing requests for qualifications for an architect, construction manager and other vendors.

The district hired CAA Icon, the same entity that represented the Bucks on Fiserv Forum, to serve as the owner’s representative on the project.

Buy The Block in Harambee

Looking for a home for your business? Have expertise in redeveloping properties? The city has properties it would like to sell you.

The Department of City Development (DCD) held open houses for three properties on Thursday, October 17th from 10 a.m. through 12 p.m. in the city’s Harambee neighborhood.

The commercial properties are located at 400 E. Locust St., 2979 N. Palmer St. and 128 E. Burleigh St. All three properties were acquired by the city through property tax foreclosure.

The properties are located in the Common Council’s 6th District represented by Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs.

The alderwoman has been a champion of creative ways for the city to sell the abundance of properties it acquired following the Great Recession. She sponsored a program to sell vacant homes to artists as living spaces and creative hubs, the first of which recently opened. The alderwoman also backed the sale of a home to an affiliate of Milwaukee Area Technical College as a part of a skills development and restoration program.

Learn more about the properties and other city properties available for sale.

Huron Building Design Tweaked Again

A series of design changes to the 11-story Huron Building, currently under construction at 511 N. Broadway, are intended to make the building better respect its historic neighbors.

“The intent has always been to harmonize with the Mackie Building,” said Engberg Anderson Architects principal Tim Wolosz. The Huron’s developer, J. Jeffers & Co., previously redeveloped the adjacent Mackie and Mitchell buildings.

The architect briefed the Historic Preservation Commission Monday afternoon on the proposed changes to the $60 million building. The commission controls the design of the new building because like the Mitchell and Mackie it lies within the East Side Commercial Historic District.

Jeffers, who has appeared before the commission numerous times in the process of adjusting the size, design and use of the building, had most recently proposed to use a style of brick that’s intended to blend with the Mackie.

But the brick-for-stone swap isn’t the only thing changing. The windows in the parking garage, which occupies the first five floors of the building, were previously approved to be a translucent glass that diffused the headlights of vehicles.

“This helps us afford getting back to the stone,” said Wolosz of the parking garage design change. The accent on one section of metal paneling near the parking garage’s entrance is also being removed, which Wolosz said will draw more attention to the bulding’s lobby.

The proposed changes were met with unanimous approval from the commission. Learn more.

October Construction Photos

January Renderings

Schuster’s TIF Approved

The $84.5 million redevelopment of the historic Schuster’s department store complex on N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. received its first public approval Thursday afternoon.

Royal Capital Group is redeveloping the approximately 400,000-square-foot complex at 2153 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. as a home for both the Medical College of Wisconsin‘s community-facing programs and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. In addition, a total of 77 apartments, a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments, would be developed on the western portion of the complex along N. Vel R. Phillips Ave.

“It’s probably one of the biggest transformations of a building that you’ll see in the city from start to finish,” said Department of City Development economic development specialist Dan Casanova. “If you’ve lived in Milwaukee for a number of years, you probably go by and forget that it’s there.” The building’s 112-year-old facade has been covered by metal panels for decades.

The RACM board unanimously approved an up to $15 million developer-financed tax-incremental financing (TIF) district. The funds, effectively a property tax rebate, would be used to partially close a financing gap in the complicated project. Learn more.

2015 Facade Exposure

Signage Goes Up On BMO Tower

Downtown’s newest office tower is nearly complete and has the signage to prove it.

The 25-story, glassy BMO Tower, the future home of BMO Harris Bank‘s Milwaukee office and a host of other tenants, now sports 10-foot-tall letters on three of its four sides. The letters spell out BMO, a reference to the bank’s Montreal, Canada-based parent the Bank of Montreal.

“My colleagues and I have been excited about our future tower since it was first announced three years ago, and seeing the BMO letters being placed at the top of the tower reminds us that our upcoming move into our new Wisconsin headquarters is getting closer and closer,” said Jud Snyder BMO’s senior executive for southeast Wisconsin in a statement.

In a release, BMO said it intends to move into the $137 million tower in January, a month later than planned when the tower broke ground. The tower will be completed before the end of 2019. The construction process was delayed during the construction of the building’s parking structure and foundation.

Irgens Partners is developing the new tower for the bank. The bank intends to relocate 600 employees into the building, down from the 900 the company estimated at the building’s groundbreaking. As part of the transaction, Irgens acquired BMO’s current building, the former M&I Bank Building, and plans to redevelop the office tower. Read more.




Milwaukee Downtown Celebrates Successful Year

“Downtown is more robust than ever,” said Milwaukee Downtown CEO Beth Weirick to a packed room at the business improvement district’s annual meeting at the recently redeveloped Saint Kate Arts Hotel.

The energetic downtown booster was joined by the district’s full-time staff members in detailing the organization’s successes over the past year and plans for 2020.

A list of highlights includes over 70,000 diners participating in Downtown Dining Week, 1,349 pieces of graffiti removed, two new murals, the launch of Postman’s Porch, another popular run of the Holiday Lights Festival, just under 20,000 meals served at Downtown Employee Appreciation Week, the launch of BID-NID Week with the city, three businesses leveraging the $165,000 business development loan pool, $470,000 in public-private partnerships, expanding Public Service Ambassador hours into the evening and a roofline lighting program on 22 properties on N. Old World Third St.

Weirick announced that the organization raised $80,000 to fund one year of a downtown homeless outreach coordinator position and will seek funding to continue the position. Beth Lappen is serving in the role, which has taken on increased visibility and importance in the past month with the announcement that the residents of the tent city under the Marquette Interchange will be evicted. Weirck has been a proponent of removing the tent city and has advocated for a housing first-based solution.

See who won awards and what else the BID has planned.

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More about the New State Office Building

Read more about New State Office Building here

More about the Wisconsin Center expansion

Read more about Wisconsin Center expansion here

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