Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Third Ward Building Could Become Hotel

Wimmer Communities would convert five-story building, a former shoe polish factory.

By - Jan 25th, 2021 04:29 pm
125-129 N. Water St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

125-129 N. Water St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Historic Third Ward could land a second hotel under a proposal from Wimmer Communities.

A request pending before the Historic Third Ward Architectural Review Board calls for the five-story building at 125-129 N. Water St. to be converted to a hotel. No additional details on the project were available. The project is scheduled to be reviewed on Wednesday.

The building, constructed in 1892 according to the Wisconsin Historical Society, was the long-time home of the Harri Hoffman Company. The company, known for its Hoffco Shoe Polish, was based at the building since 1963. The structure was originally built for a predecessor firm of Laacke & Joys.

The last manufacturer left in the neighborhood, the company was run by Harri Hoffmann‘s daughter Lorraine Hoffmann until her death in July 2017.

Hales Corners-based Wimmer acquired the property in April 2019 for $3.3 million. It also acquired the surface parking lot at 217 N. Water St., the five-story, 7,200-square-foot building at 221 N. Water St., home to restaurant Lucky Ginger, and the surface parking lot at 239 E. Erie St. for $800,000 combined.

Brothers Mark and John Wimmer, the fifth-generation leaders of the family real estate firm, already owned a slice of the Historic Third Ward before acquiring the Hoffman properties. The brothers purchased the former firehouse at 105 N. Water St. and in 2018 began converting it into a shared, part-time downtown residence for their families. It was most recently used as an office building, located immediately south of the shoe polish factory. Work is ongoing on that project.

The proposed hotel would be the second for the neighborhood following the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, 310 E. Chicago St., which opened in 2016.

Wimmer is declining to provide further details on the project until the Wednesday meeting. The 160-person company reports owning more than 30 properties and 5,000 residential rental units.

For more on the Hoffco building history, see a 2019 “What’s It Worth?” column by my colleague Michael Horne.


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