Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Humboldt Gardens Proposal Is Dead

Developers decide turning 1890 building on Humboldt and North into condos is too costly.

By - Nov 14th, 2019 04:25 pm
Humboldt Gardens building at 2249 N. Humboldt Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Humboldt Gardens building at 2249 N. Humboldt Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A proposal to redevelop the three-story Humboldt Gardens Schlitz tavern at 2249 N. Humboldt Ave. is dead.

Developers Todd Hutchison and Kyle Mack had proposed to convert the city-owned building into three condominiums.

But a file to be reviewed by the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee next week will terminate the developer’s purchase option for the property.

The two secured an option to purchase the property from the city for $58,500 in 2018. The 7,798-square-foot building, which the city acquired through property tax foreclosure in 2015 from Damian Zak, is in need of substantial repair both inside and out. It was built in 1890.

Mack, a broker at the CBRE firm and graduate of the ACRE program that trains minorities for jobs in real estate, had partnered with Hutchison, a real estate veteran and licensed architect known for his work on affordable housing.

In July, when the proposal was being vetted by the Historic Preservation Commission, Hutchison said the development was far from a sure thing and had a number of challenges due to the condition of the building. A $300,000 financing gap existed in the $1.2 million project at that point.

Mack told Urban Milwaukee Thursday that issues with financing and parking made it too complicated to redevelop.

The city demolished the building’s south wing, a 375-square-foot addition, in July as part of securing the structure.

Hutchison, in July, anticipated spending $150,000 to secure the facility, including a new roof and tuckpointing, and $58,500 to purchase the building, before advancing a full redevelopment plan. The partners never purchased the building.

Historic Preservation Commission staffer Tim Askin surveyed the condition of the building last winter. “We could not go upstairs because there was an inch of ice on the stairs,” he said of a hole that is allowing water to fall directly into the building. Hutchison said it grew to six inches on the first floor.

The Department of City Development is expressing optimism about what comes next. “We have already reached out to others who had previously expressed an interest in the property, and we are optimistic about the possibilities,” said a department spokesperson.

Building History

The partners proposed to name the development The Kirchhoff after its original architect: Charles Kirchhoff, Jr. Kirchhoff was the frequent architect for the Uihlein family, owners of Schlitz. He designed a number of taverns for the brewery, including buildings still standing today at 322 W. State St. (Point Burger Bar), 1758 N. Water St. (DiModa Pizza) 1900 W. St. Paul Ave. (Sobelman’s Pub), 2053 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. (On The Bayou) and 2414 S. St. Clair St. (Three Brothers). Like many of its peer taverns, the Humboldt Gardens building once had a large turret that rose from the circular structure found at the top.

Kirchhoff, through his firm Kirchhoff & Rose, also designed Schlitz’s Palm Garden Hotel and at least three mansions for the Uihlein family on Lake Drive. The prolific architect also designed Second Ward Savings Bank (today’s Milwaukee County Historical Society), P&H’s original factory, the Schuster’s department store, the Riverside Theater and the Palace Theatre in New York City’s Times Square (which is being lifted 30 feet to accommodate a new building underneath).

The Humboldt Gardens building has housed a series of taverns and clubs throughout its history beyond its original use as a brewery-owned bar. It’s been home to Mint, Lounge Zak’s North Ave, Spruce Goose, Kilroy’s Tavern and Hot Spot. The last of these closed in 1992, and the building’s first floor has been vacant since.

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Related Legislation: File 190162

One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Humboldt Gardens Proposal Is Dead”

  1. montaviusj92 says:

    Did Mack say what the issuing issues were?

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