Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Marcus Center Begins Redevelopment

First phase calls for overhaul of Uihlein Hall, live-streaming technology and revamping grounds.

By - Sep 20th, 2020 03:05 pm
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts redevelopment rendering. Rendering by HGA.

Marcus Performing Arts Center redevelopment rendering. Rendering by HGA.

The Marcus Performing Arts Center is moving forward with a modified version of its 2018 campus master plan. The proposal involves redeveloping the grounds at 929 N. Water St., building a new west lobby, creating a large donor lounge, improving seating and a host of other improvements to the 51-year-old complex.

The $4 million first phase includes the renovation of Uihlein Hall, the main performance venue. The work will take place over the next six months.

“Despite the challenges of being shut down because of COVID, we recognized that we also had a unique opportunity to reinvest in our most important interior performing space, while the building is closed,” said president and CEO Kendra Whitlock Ingram in a statement. “Our visionary donors recognized this opportunity and stepped up to make this vision a reality.”

Donna and Donald Baumgartner provided a $1 million gift, an anonymous donor provided an additional $1 million and the Herzfeld Foundation provided a “generous grant” according to a press release from the Marcus Center.

Uihlein Hall will receive new seats, a new seating configuration with more aisles and a number of accessibility improvements. The first phase will also include the installation of live-streaming technology in all venues and “creation of a dynamic and vibrant new outdoor public space.”

“The investments in the Marcus Center will revitalize the in-person audience experience, and our entire company is grateful for the generosity of these donors,” said Michael Pink, artistic director of the Milwaukee Ballet, a tenant of the Marcus Center.

“We enthusiastically support the remodel of the Marcus Center to not only invest in the future of Milwaukee’s performing arts community, but to help create a more exciting and comfortable audience experience,” said Donna and Donald Baumgartner. The Baumgartners were also the lead funders of the ballet’s new training facility and offices in the Historic Third Ward.

Architecture firm HGA is leading the design on the phased project.

The project comes as the non-profit operator faces declining financial support from property owner Milwaukee County and the pending loss of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra as a tenant.

In addition to the ballet and symphony, the facility is home for traveling Broadway plays, the Florentine Opera Company, First Stage, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and Black Arts MKE. A number of other events take place at the facility each year.

Whitlock Ingram started at the organization in March, following a December announcement of her hiring. Long-time leader Paul Mathews announced his retirement in 2019.

Mathews led the organization through a contentious debate over designating the building as historic in early 2019. The Marcus Center plans call for removing a grove of trees designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley, which led to a historic nomination for the grove from community members. The Common Council ultimately overturned the Historic Preservation Commission‘s designation of the building in May 2019.

In his opposition to the designation, Mathews said the organization needed a quick decision from the city to not delay the project. But the project has not formally moved forward until now.

A budget for the project has not been released. City permitting records do not show any permits for the project.

The complex, designed by architect Harry Weese, first opened in 1969.

2018 Renderings

Photos and Renderings from 2020

A recap of the week’s real estate news…

Inside Milwaukee’s Newest Event Venue

Milwaukee’s newest event venue is located in one of the city’s oldest buildings.

St. James 1868 is located in the former St. James Episcopal Church at 833 W. Wisconsin Ave. The name is a reference to when the building was built, just after the Civil War.

The church was one of many on what was then Grand Avenue and had a prestigious list of members, including business magnate Alexander Mitchell who lived in a mansion across the street (today’s Wisconsin Club). But by 2017 the congregation had dwindled to approximately 30 and maintenance costs in the building were escalating. A final service was held on November 1st, 2017.

Meanwhile Katie Crowle, a department store merchandiser, was exploring options for opening an event venue.

Read the full article

The Building With A Ship Underneath

Built in 1873, the building at 170 S. 2nd St. has quite the history.

It was located near Milwaukee’s industrial core at the time of its construction, and was much closer to navigable waters. An 1874 report from The Milwaukee Monthly Magazine says the hull of the wrecked S.S. Cincinnati rests twenty feet below the building.

How did it get there?

Read the full article

Assessor Wants No Assessments in 2021

Every year since 2002 Milwaukee property owners have received a letter in the mail indicating a change in the value of their property. The changes are based on comparable property sales and part of an annual assessment process.

In May, Assessment Commissioner Steve Miner told a Common Council committee that annual assessments are the “best way to keep the property tax fair and that’s the goal of the Assessor’s Office.” He reiterated that Monday before the council’s Judiciary & Legislation Committee, then recommended the city not conduct an assessment in 2021.

Read the full article

Read the full article

Downtown Building Being Demolished

A 1,976-square-foot building will soon meet its demise in Westown.

Athina Properties, the owner of the two-story structure at 324-326 W. State St., applied to demolish the building.

City records indicate the structure was originally built in 1885, but it’s been heavily altered since. For decades it was home to Accurate Key and Lock on the ground level, and an apartment on the second floor.

The Tase family, which owns Athina Properties, acquired the building in 2015 for $165,000. It has been vacant since December 2015.

Read the full article

Admiral’s Wharf Project Targeting December Groundbreaking

The developers of Admiral’s Wharf, a proposed 11-story, 133-unit apartment building for 234 S. Water St., are lining up the final pieces of financing for the $43 million project.

The building would be the largest in the state built from an energy-efficient insulated-concrete form. It would occupy a site along the Milwaukee River that has housed a boat yard in recent decades.

The developers, a partnership between VJS Development and Bedford Development, came before the board of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) on Thursday afternoon to secure an environmental cleanup loan.

“We are anticipating groundbreaking in December of this year,” said Bailey Copeland of VJS. The firm’s contracting arm, VJS Construction Services, will construct the project and has owned the land for almost a decade. Completion is targeted for July 2022.

Read the full article

South Side Tanning Company Expanding

A near South Side company is planning to expand by acquiring a tax delinquent, vacant building just west of its current facility. It will involve a complicated transaction with the City of Milwaukee.

Law Tanning, founded in Milwaukee in 1936, will use the two-story brick building at 1875 W. Bruce St. as a warehouse to support its operations at its plant at 1616 W. Pierce St.

The company started by making split leather for gloves and expanded into fine bag leather, made from a variety of animals including bison, over time. “We even do some kangaroo leather,” said company president Ryan Law on Wednesday when the proposal was before the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee. He said the company makes leather products for fire fighting, tool belts and military uses “If you can think of [something] being made out of leather, we probably have a customer making it.”

Read the full article

Mixed-Use Project Planned for Bay View

The former Filer & Stowell manufacturing campus, long home to Southwind Marine, at 147 E. Becher St. could be redeveloped by Bear Development.

The Kenosha-based real estate company applied for a zoning change for the approximately 10-acre site to the city’s “Industrial – Mixed” zoning designation. This would allow the site to be redeveloped for a variety of uses including housing or commercial uses. The property is currently zoned “Industrial – Heavy.”

The site, which includes the former manufacturing campus and an adjacent abandoned railroad corridor at 123-127 E. Becher St., runs from E. Becher St. to E. Lincoln Ave. between S. 1st St. and the active Canadian Pacific railroad tracks. The long, rectangular site is accessible from both its north and south ends, but contains no accessible frontage on either its east or west sides.

Read the full article

Crowley Defers Youth Corrections Grant Until State Has Sustainable Plan

After the state repeatedly cut funding for Milwaukee County’s new youth detention facility, county officials are refusing funding for a new facility until there is a commitment from the state to fund it in a sustainable manner.

In 2018, the state Legislature passed Act 185 which set a timeline for closing the state’s two youth detention facilities — Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls — by July 2021, after they were the target of a federal investigation into mistreatment and abuse. The legislation also provided funding for counties to develop their own, local detention facilities.

For two years the county has been planning a new facility. And at every turn, the state has forced Milwaukee County to reduce its funding request. Meanwhile, the three other counties involved in the process — Dane, Brown and Racine counties — had their requests approved. Brown County actually received $3.4 million more than it requested.

Read the full article

Foxconn “Tops Off” 100-Foot-High Performance Computing Data Center Globe

Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn) and its construction manager, Mortenson, announced the structural steel completion of its 100-foot-tall High-Performance Computing Data Center (HPCDC) Globe located within Area 1 Phase 1 of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park (WVSTP) in Mount Pleasant, WI.

Foxconn and Mortenson will soon begin the process of installing 642 pieces of glass through Q4 2020. To date, according to Foxconn, it has invested approximately $750 million in Wisconsin inclusive of capital expenditures, salaries, and other expenses since operations began.

Read the press release

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