Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Appeal Dropped on Bucks Player’s Project

Civil War-era building can be razed. New three-unit apartment building can be developed.

By - Dec 10th, 2019 12:28 pm
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1245-1247 N. Milwaukee St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

1245-1247 N. Milwaukee St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The game’s over, at least for one Milwaukee duplex. Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton‘s proposal to replace a Civil War-era duplex with a three-unit apartment building has been cleared of any historic hurdles.

Preservation advocate Dawn McCarthy withdrew her appeal of the Historic Preservation Commission‘s rejection of temporary historic designation for the 1865 duplex located at 1245-1247 N. Milwaukee St.

McCarthy, a Milwaukee Preservation Alliance board member, applied for temporary and permanent historic designation in October for the house after Beach House, Connaughton’s real estate firm, filed for a raze permit for the structure. The temporary designation is intended to serve as an injunction while permanent status is debated.

The commission rejected the temporary designation on November 11th on a 3-1 vote and Monday afternoon unanimously voted to reject permanent designation. McCarthy had appealed the earlier rejection to the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee, which was scheduled to hear the matter and render a final decision on Tuesday morning.

McCarthy, in her testimony Monday, stressed the importance of historic preservation and the ability of local officials to decide what is worthy of saving, even if it wasn’t nationally recognized.

But having seen the commission reject the permanent designation, McCarthy emailed the city to withdraw the appeal moments later.

Connaughton and his father Len said during the November hearing on the temporary designation that redeveloping the building would necessitate building an entirely new foundation.

“It’s rubble,” said the elder Connaughton, who noted the building has been vacant for three years. “I feel the building’s been cannibalized significantly.”

Pat pledged Monday to use deconstruction, a technique designed to salvage much of the building, particularly old-growth lumber, instead of demolishing the structure. He said he wouldn’t have proposed demolishing the structure if he thought it merited saving.

Ignoring the current state of the structure, Commissioner Matt Jarosz argued Monday that neither the building, nor its many past residents, rose to the level of designation. The UW-Milwaukee architecture professor said the building satisfied four of the potential directives for which a property can be designated, but lacked significant merit. “Based on my experience in the past there has always been one that has risen to prominence,” said Jarosz, ticking off a list of possibilities including a well-known resident or an exemplification of an architectural style, and concluding this building wasn’t of significant merit in any category.

The new building planned by Connaughton, in which he plans to live, would contain three high-end apartments. The athlete-turned-developer said the building would be “very tasteful” and isn’t comparable to larger apartment buildings.

He will still end up before the commission again. Connaughton’s firm is also planning a second building that will be located in the Brady Street Historic District. That project, which became public last week, is planned for a vacant, city-owned site at 1697-1699 N. Marshall St.

For those interested in the history of the downtown duplex, including a past resident’s impact on rebuilding after the Historic Third Ward fire, a murder and its role in Milwaukee’s early Greek community, see an extensive report prepared by commission staffer Carlen Hatala.

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Related Legislation: File 19144

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