Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Bay View Project Plans Up To 300 Apartments

See inside the former Filer & Stowell complex. Plus: All the week's real estate news.

By - Oct 25th, 2020 12:22 pm
The eastern manufacturing building at the Filer & Stowell complex is now used for boat storage by Southwind Marine. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The eastern manufacturing building at the Filer & Stowell complex is now used for boat storage by Southwind Marine. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Bear Development‘s plans to redevelop the 10-acre Filer & Stowell campus in the northwest corner of Bay View could include up to 300 apartments.

That’s according to company CEO S.R. Mills who led a tour of the property, 147 E. Becher St., Saturday for interested area residents and stakeholders. The Kenosha-based company is seeking to have the site rezoned to accommodate residential use of the former industrial buildings. The long, narrow site runs from E. Becher St. to E. Lincoln Ave. with railroad corridors on each side.

Current plans call for redeveloping the various buildings at the site, many made from Cream City brick and over a century old, with no new construction. Mills said the firm is considering whether to attempt the project at once or in phases. Price points and unit sizes for a mix of incomes are planned.

The firm, which has engaged Engberg Anderson Architects to lead the design, would leverage state and federal historic preservation tax credits to support the redevelopment. The credits, which require National Park Service approval, require historically-sensitive redevelopment. Mills and architect Mark Ernst both acknowledged that the decision of what gets rehabilitated or replaced, down to individual windows and doors, is a matter of negotiation and evaluation with NPS and the state historic preservation officer. The credits, often sold to investors, offset up to 40 percent of applicable project costs.

“There are so many unique qualities to it, it’s going to take some time,” said Mills of the ultimate redevelopment plans. He said the property’s location and historic buildings drew the firm to the site.

Two multi-story buildings front E. Becher St., one with three floors and another with four, and look like candidates for redevelopment with historical office uses. Located behind each structure is a long building that Filer & Stowell used for manufacturing sawmill equipment. A corridor splits the two structures with a number of loading bays, a set of disused railroad tracks and a variety of parked vehicles and equipment.

The eastern building is currently used for boat storage and repair by Southwind Marine, with a series of smaller buildings in between it and the four-story building at E. Becher St. Ernst said despite a worn visual appearance the structure of many of the buildings would support redevelopment.

The western building, 1,200 feet in length, is still packed with manufacturing equipment, as though a crew went to lunch and didn’t come back. Toolboxes are still open and work stations are still set up.

The building was used by Integrated Tool & Machine until three years ago, said Brian Read, the property’s longtime owner. Read, whose grandfather acquired and ran Filer & Stowell, said Integrated last supplied parts used by Siemens in sewage treatment systems. It also made replacement parts for Filer & Stowell equipment.

Both buildings are largely clad in metal paneling that obscures a number of window bays on the upper floors. Redevelopment could include multi-story apartments said Mills. The longer western building, four football fields in length, contains a brick structure that protrudes into the central corridor from its southern end. Ernst said that building could be used for walk-up units.

A structure used as a forge stands at the south end of the property, surrounded by piles of wood from street trees. Read, who carries on the Filer & Stowell history of creating industrial machinery, was using the lumber as part of a project to design a machine that could cut both wood and any embedded metal, like nails, without damaging the blade or causing injury. He said a patent was pending.

Much of the parking for the development would occur in the former railroad corridor, 123-127 E. Becher St., that parallels the western side of the site. Mills said the property, also owned by Read, is wide enough to park vehicles on each side with two travel lanes. The southern portion of the Filer & Stowell site, along E. Lincoln Ave., could also be used for surface parking. No covered parking is currently planned. The eastern railroad corridor, owned by Canadian Pacific, is a main line between Chicago and Milwaukee and heavily traveled by freight and passenger trains.

A virtual community meeting on the rezoning request is scheduled for Monday at 5:30 p.m. by Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic‘s office. Registration is required. The rezoning request would need Common Council approval.

Read said he would continue to operate Southwind Marine on a riverfront property across E. Becher St. and could eventually develop a vertical boat storage facility on the site. He told Urban Milwaukee he was looking to sell the Filer & Stowell site given the changing nature of the neighborhood.

The area around the Filer & Stowell site has seen a substantial amount of development activity in recent years, led by Michels Corp’s $100 million River One development to the west. That project is under construction. To the east, the owners of Wheel & Sprocket bought and completed redevelopment this spring of a former Filer & Stowell machine shop, 187 E. Becher St., which now serves as headquarters for the company, office space for other tenants and this fall will be home to a Wheel & Sprocket bicycle shop. Also just east of Canadian Pacific railroad tracks is the Stitchweld apartment complex, completed in 2017. Wrapping up construction just south of the site is the MKE Urban Stables project at 143 E. Lincoln Ave.

A separate 5-acre site, located between the Filer & Stowell site and S. 1st St., is also listed for sale by Mallory Properties (2252 S. 1st St.).

Bear has developed two properties in Milwaukee, both of which involved repurposing existing buildings. It developed a Homewood Suites hotel in the Button Block Building at 500 N. Water St. It also redeveloped a building at 700 W. Michigan St. into the 700 Lofts low-income housing apartment complex. The company has developed a number of projects outside Milwaukee with a variety of uses.

Tour Photos

September Photos

Selzer-Ornst Acquires Wisconsin Redevelopment

A Wauwatosa-based construction company continues to expand.

Selzer-Ornst Construction Company acquired Wisconsin Redevelopment this week. The development firm, led by Bob Lemke and Todd Hutchison specializes in affordable housing and adaptive reuse projects. Hutchison will remain with the firm.

“This acquisition enables us to offer our clients predevelopment and development services, including but not limited to, land acquisition, facility consultation and real-estate consultation,” said Matthew D. Tadisch, Selzer-Ornst owner, in a press release announcing the deal.

The construction company was founded in 1928 and acquired by Tadisch in 2017. Selzer-Ornst purchased ABCO Building Corporation earlier this year.

Weekly Recap

BV+ Rises on Kinnickinnic Ave

Voters waiting to cast an in-person, early ballot at Bay View Library have had something to watch across the street for the past week.

Construction is moving right along on BV+ (pronounced “Bay View Addition”) at 2557-2565 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Developer Scott Genke is transforming the long-vacant lot into an 18-unit, two-story building.

The project will complement the existing Bay View Building, 2569-2573 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.,  located immediately south of the site. Genke’s SG Property Development + Management is redeveloping that building as well, with four apartments on the upper floor and a new space for Honeypie, a breakfast-focused restaurant currently located a block south, on the building’s first floor. A patio will occupy the space between the two buildings.

Read the full article

Will Foxconn Pay Taxes Pledged to Racine County?

Three years after committing to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, Foxconn has fallen short on those promises. Now, the company has three years to deliver on another commitment: to begin paying back Racine County taxpayers.

Racine County and Mount Pleasant have made substantial upfront investments in infrastructure and land acquisition for the project since 2017. In return, Foxconn was expected to invest $10 billion in private investment in Mount Pleasant by 2023.

To date, $550 million has been invested in Mount Pleasant by the company.

In 2017, Foxconn had proposed what it called a “Generation 10.5” facility that would manufacture LCD monitors and create up to 13,000 jobs in Mount Pleasant. In return, the state signed a $3 billion tax incentive deal based on job creation. Had everything gone as planned, the “break-even point,” for Wisconsin taxpayers would have been 2042, according to a memo written Oct. 7 by Joel Brennan, secretary of the state Department of Administration.

Read the full article

City, MMSD Advance 40-Million Gallon Stormwater Plan

Large rainstorms have caused a growing number of floods under the railroad overpass along W. Capitol Dr. just west of N. 31st St., stalling vehicles and temporarily closing one of the city’s busiest streets. The storms have also damaged nearby homes and businesses.

It’s one of many spots in the 30th Street Corridor that have suffered repeated flooding in the past 12 years. A 2010 storm caused $32 million in damage. Now the city is advancing a comprehensive plan to build a 40-million gallon stormwater retention system.

Construction on the major pieces is expected to begin in 2021, with basins straddling the railroad corridor. Each will drain to Lincoln Creek and some of the basins will serve as new public parks.

Read the full article

Lincoln Park Becoming A Little Bigger

A proposal before the Milwaukee Common Council would expand the size of Milwaukee County’s sprawling Lincoln Park, at least on paper. The approximately 312-acre park runs along the Milwaukee River and Lincoln Creek from W. Silver Spring Dr. on the north to W. Glendale Ave. on the south, Interstate 43 on the east to N. Green Bay Rd. on the west.

The county, with support from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, acquired the 0.59-acre property at 5300 N. Milwaukee River Pkwy. in February 2018 for $135,000, below its $160,000 assessment, as part of a flood mitigation plan. It was one of a few private properties along the parkway that is wrapped by the park.

The rectangular property, with Milwaukee River frontage, came with a 988-square-foot house constructed in 1940. By the end of 2018, with assistance from D&H Demolition, the county had demolished the structure and removed any pavement from the site.

Now the county is pursuing a zoning change to designate the property as parkland. The City Plan Commission reviewed the request at its Monday meeting.

Read the full article

September Home Sales Up 18% in State

Home sales and home prices in Wisconsin jumped in September, according to the latest data out from the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

The number of homes sold in the state jumped by about 18 percent in September compared to the same month last year. And the median price for a house similarly increased about 18 percent in September relative to the same month last year, up from $195,000 in Sept. 2019 to $229,000 in Sept. 2020.

Read the full article

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