Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

New Land Plans Eight-Story Building

Mixed-use structure with 220 apartments on old Buca's site needs Common Council okay

By - Dec 8th, 2020 01:31 pm
The former Buca di Beppo on N. Van Buren St. Photo by Dave Reid.

The former Buca di Beppo on N. Van Buren St. Photo by Dave Reid.

Johnny Vassallo‘s plans to develop an apartment high-rise at the former Buca di Beppo site might be over just after they started. New Land Enterprises has submitted a zoning change request to the city for the property at 1237 N. Van Buren St.

New Land, according to a two-page application, would build an eight-story mixed-use structure with up to 220 apartments, 300 parking stalls and 2,500 square feet of commercial space.

An investment group led by Vassallo, known for his Mo’s restaurants and bars, paid $2.1 million for the 1.3-acre property in October. It was listed for sale in 2018 by an affiliate of Elite Sports Clubs.

As part of Vassallo’s acquisition, a purchase option was maintained by New Land Enterprises. That option, according to Vassallo, extends to June 1st, 2021. The purchase option, a legal contract, would afford New Land the opportunity to purchase the property at a pre-determined price.

The L-shaped property is best known for its former tenant Buca di Beppo restaurant, but also includes a parking lot that stretches to the intersection of E. Juneau Ave and N. Van Buren St. as well as a former gym that extends west to N. Jackson Street. Buca closed in 2017.

The site is in a highly-desirable location, but any development would need to be designed to accommodate the east-west slope of the site and necessary setbacks from the USPS Juneau Station facility, owned by the Marcus family, that is located immediately southwest of the development site.

Just a block south of the site New Land is developing Ascent, a 25-story apartment tower that is poised to be the tallest mass timber building in the world when completed.

The application does not indicate that the second project would be a mass timber building. The project architect is listed as Jason Korb of Korb + Associates Architects, a frequent New Land collaborator.

An estimated private investment of $35 million is listed.

New Land director Tim Gokhman did not respond to a request for comment.

New Land’s plans need Common Council approval. The area is represented by Alderman Robert Bauman.

Vassallo, in partnership with HKS Holdings, is pursuing a 350-unit, 19-to-24-story apartment tower at 10845 W. Bluemound Rd. in Wauwatosa across the street from one of his Irish pubs.

HKS and Vassallo, commonly known as Johnny V, partnered in 2014 on the development of the MKE Lofts in a seven-story building at 152 W. Wisconsin Ave. that was largely vacant other than fir Vassallo’s Mo’s Irish Pub on the ground floor.


If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: New Land Plans Eight-Story Building”

  1. David Coles says:

    Exciting. Except for the 300-car parking garage. I’d love to see them design that garage like another Milwaukee developer recently did, in such dimensions that would allow future retrofitting of the space into offices/residences. Hopefully private car ownership is going to be much less common in the not-so-distant future.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us