Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Rite-Hite May Move to Reed Street Yards

Plus: Water leak delays BMO Tower, city exploring Plan B for former Schlitz tavern.

By - Nov 17th, 2019 01:05 pm
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Reed Street Yards. Photo taken July 22nd, 2016 by Jeramey Jannene.

Reed Street Yards. Photo taken July 22nd, 2016 by Jeramey Jannene.

Brown Deer-based Rite-Hite is considering relocating its headquarters to the city’s Reed Streets Yard business park located on the northern edge of Walker’s Point.

The news was first reported by Alex Zank on Friday and confirmed by multiple sources. It comes after the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee scheduled a hearing next week to amend the Reed Street Yards tax incremental financing district to relocate sewer infrastructure on a portion of the 15-acre site. The move is being billed by city officials as removing an impediment to development.

Rite-Hite manufactures loading dock equipment, industrial doors, safety barriers, industrial fans and other products for warehouse operators. According to a 2017 report, the company has 220 employees in Brown Deer. The company reports having over 2,200 employees worldwide.

The company currently maintains a satellite office in the Historic Third Ward.

The 15-acre development site has only attracted a single office tenant to date. Zurn, a subsidiary of Rexnord, relocated from Pennsylvania to a three-story office building in the business park. The Yards apartment building is under construction on the district’s eastern edge along S. 2nd St.

Brookfield-based Fiserv was reportedly considering Reed Street Yards as one of three candidates for relocation, but has not advanced its relocation effort.

General Capital Group owns much of the available land in Reed Streets Yard.

BMO Tower Delayed

BMO Tower, the 25-story office tower under construction at the corner of N. Water St. and E. Wells St., will miss its scheduled December opening because of water damage to the building’s basement.

The breach occurred on November 7th and the resulting damage to mechanical and electrical equipment will push the building’s opening back to spring 2020.

BMO Harris Bank will relocate 600 employees into the building, but for the time being those located next door in the former M&I Building will be staying put. No information regarding the host of other firms planning to relocate to the building, including law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, was immediately available.

Signage was installed on the building in mid-October.

The cost to develop the building was estimated at $137 million this summer.

Rocketship Opens New School

Rocketship Transformation Prep. Photo from Rocketship.

Rocketship Transformation Prep. Photo from Rocketship.

National charter school operator Rocketship held a ceremonial ribbon cutting on its new Milwaukee school at 5501 N. 68th St., just south of W. Silver Spring Dr., on October 31st. The facility, known as Rocketship Transformation Prep, currently serves students in four-year-old kindergarten through fourth grade.

The school is Rocketship’s second in the city, joining Southside Community Prep at 3003 W. Cleveland Ave.

The north side facility was formerly known as St. Philip Neri School, part of Blessed Savior Catholic School. An affiliate of Rocketship acquired the building in April 2019.

Rocketship had previously sought to acquire a former Milwaukee Public Schools building, Carleton Elementary at 4116 W. Silver Spring Dr., but didn’t move forward with the deal because of the rehab costs. That building is now poised for redevelopment as housing.

The school serves students from predominantly low-income backgrounds.

Quartet’s Rising

Construction is moving right along on Quartet, New Land Enterprises fourth building in Walker’s Point.

The six-story, 48-unit building will contain a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments at the southwest corner of S. 2nd St. and W. Mineral St. “The goal of Quartet is to provide a complement to its neighboring building,” said New Land director Tim Gokhman of the 120-unit Trio complex in a June interviewThe Trio complex features a large number of studios with convertible table beds designed to maximize space.

Gokhman said with the wide array of layouts in the new building, Quartet will be targeted at everyone from empty nesters and millennials to young families and couples. “The great thing about [greater] Downtown is it is becoming more mixed,” said Gokhman, a Beerline resident with a family of his own.

Quartet residents will have a lounge and fitness center in their building and will also be able to leverage the amenities in Trio. Read more.

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Lurie Buying Mostly Empty Downtown Building

Developer Scott Lurie has an agreement to purchase the mostly empty Assurant Health office building at 501 W. Michigan St.

The developer, head of F Street Group, announced the news at Westown Association’s annual meeting on Tuesday evening. He could convert part of the building into a hotel.

The five-story building, which includes an attached parking garage with more than 800 stalls, is the last mostly vacant, large office complex in Westown. It includes approximately 370,000 square feet of space according to city records. The building is currently assessed for $17.1 million.

An early 2019 listing for the property indicates that over 180,000 square feet of space could be added to the complex. The listing also says the property has been well maintained.

According to city records, the building was built on a 2.9-acre site in 1978. An 11-story sister building, located to the east, was vacant since Blue Cross Blue Shield left Downtown in 2006. It was redeveloped into the 207-unit The Buckler apartment building in 2016. A tunnel connecting the two buildings was filled in as part of the apartment building’s construction. Read on.

Humboldt Gardens Proposal Is Dead

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 March 2018 from Damian Zak, is in need of substantial repair both inside and out. It was built in 1890.

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. See photos of the building’s interior.

Bucks Player’s Project Still in Limbo

Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton is still not in the clear to demolish a duplex at 1245-1247 N. Milwaukee St.

Connaughton, through his development firm Beach Houseplans to demolish the duplex, which dates back to at least 1865, and construct a three-story, three-unit apartment building on the site.

Preservation advocate Dawn McCarthy filed an appeal Thursday afternoon to the Common Council regarding the Historic Preservation Commission‘s decision that the property is not historic.

In her appeal, she said it is unusual for commissioners to reject designation after a staff report recommended temporary designation based on four criteria.

The commission ruled on Monday to reject McCarthy’s application for temporary historic designation for the property. The designation would have blocked any construction activity on the property for 180 days and required the commission to hold a hearing regarding permanent historic designation.

“My gut is that this building does not rise to the level of significance to merit designation,” said Ann Pieper Eisenbrown on Monday before moving to reject the application. Sally Peltz and Marion Clendenen-Acosta voted with Pieper Eisenbrown, Patti Keating Kahn voted against the measure. Read on.

City Acquiring Land for Future Bike Trail

With eyes on using it for a future bike trail, the City of Milwaukee is acquiring a former railroad right-of-way from N. 20th St. to N. 24th Pl. just south of W. Hampton Ave.

But don’t expect that trail to materialize anytime soon. “We have no intention at this point to do any paving or construction of that bike trail,” said Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee assistant executive director Dave Misky.

The proposal was unanimously endorsed by Common Council’s Public Works Committee on Wednesday morning. The city will hold the land, which Misky said is wide enough for a future trail, until funding materializes for a bigger plan.

The property, which will be donated to the city by Glendale Redevelopment LLC, was formerly part of the Beer Line railroad spur which ran southeast from a junction near N. 32nd St. and W. Hampton Ave. through Riverwest and a host of other neighborhoods to a yard near N. Old World Third St. and W. Highland Ave. The line served over 100 industrial customers as well as Schlitz, Pabst and Blatz during its heyday many decades ago. Learn more.

The Brewery Celebrates Its Completion

Tuesday was The Brewery District Day throughout all of Milwaukee by order of Mayor Tom Barrett.

Barrett, joined by leaders from master developer Zilber Ltd. and other project partners, made the proclamation at a brief ceremony held at the Hyatt Place hotel to celebrate substantial completion of the redevelopment of the former Pabst Brewery and the installation of a new gateway landmark on the district’s eastern edge.

“This is a culmination of Joe’s vision,” said Zilber president John Kersey of the late Joseph Zilber. The developer approached Barrett in 2006 with a proposal to transform the abandoned brewery into a mixed-use neighborhood. Zilber’s proposal came as options for the 21-acre district were dwindling following the rejection of a heavily-subsidized entertainment center known as Pabst City.

“None of this would have happened without the help from the city,” said Kersey. The city, through a tax-incremental financing district, has contributed $29 million to support public infrastructure, demolition, and historic preservation. In turn, Zilber has stewarded the development from a district assessed at $9 million in 2006 to $104 million at the end of 2018.

“We did it by letting the public tell us what needed to be here,” said Kersey. He then ticked off all the various uses that have found a home, including senior, affordable, student and market-rate apartments, office space, a hotel, two parks, multiple event venues and a number of other uses. “For some odd reason two breweries came back,” said Kersey of Pabst and Milwaukee Brewing Co.

“I think what we have witnessed here is the city reinventing itself, more specifically a neighborhood reinventing itself,” said Barrett. He said he couldn’t believe the transformation that started with a simple phone call from Zilber.

“The focus was always on the neighborhood, the neighborhood, the neighborhood and what we see now is a neighborhood,” said the Mayor of Zilber’s persistence.

With the speeches over, and the guests watching from the warmth of the hotel’s lobby, employees of marketing firm Water Street Creative uncovered the new circular gateway sculpture in the middle of the roundabout connecting W. Juneau Ave. and W. Winnebago St. at the east end of the neighborhood. Learn about the rest of the complex.

Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans Deal Signed

Mayor Tom Barrett, Alderwoman Chantia Lewis and representatives from Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin(VoW) gathered Monday morning, Veterans Day, at City Hall to sign the final piece of a complex tiny homes proposal into law.

VoW intends to build up to 48 tiny homes for military veterans on a city-owned 3.5-acre site along N. 60th St. between W. Mill Rd. and W. Good Hope Rd.

<strong><a href='http://urbanmilwaukee.com/people/gary-wetzel'><strong><a href='http://urbanmilwaukee.com/people/gary-wetzel'>Gary Wetzel</a></strong></a></strong>. Photo by <strong><a href='http://urbanmilwaukee.com/people/jeramey-jannene'><strong><a href='http://urbanmilwaukee.com/people/jeramey-jannene'>Jeramey Jannene</a></strong></a></strong>.

Gary Wetzel. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Barrett announced during the ceremony that the facility will be named after Vietnam War veteran Gary Wetzel. The Milwaukee resident, a Medal of Honor recipient, is a tireless advocate for veterans.

“It is not simply a home, it is also a support system,” said Barrett of the organization’s plans. The project is intended to provide support services in a sober-living environment for military veterans that are homeless or facing homelessness.

Lewis, an Air Force veteran, is welcoming the development to her district, which she bills as The New Ninth, with open arms. “This is one more step to show we are moving forward in an innovative way,” said the alderwoman. “If we can make it work here in Milwaukee, this is just another way to show we can make it work anywhere.” Read more.

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