Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

New Apartment Building for Walker’s Point

Heavily-altered 1880 building on 5th Street to be demolished for six-story, 66-unit building.

By - Feb 22nd, 2021 10:11 am
924 S. 5th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

924 S. 5th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

New Land Enterprises is moving forward with a new apartment building on S. 5th St.

Known as Element, the six-story, 66-unit building will be effectively a clone of the firm’s Quartet building on S. 2nd St. that opened in May and was full by the end of July. It followed the successful development of Trio, a three-building, 120-unit complex between S. 2nd St. and S. 1st St.

Much of the development site will be formed from a vacant lot at 934 S. 5th St., but a permit was recently secured to raze a two-story commercial building at 924 S. 5th St. to create the remainder of the site.

The building was originally built in 1880 according to the 1978 Walker’s Point Historic District application. “Middle vernacular, hints of Italianate,” says the brief report about the building. But any hint of an Italianate design appears to have been erased following a series of facade changes. The latest, in 2012, gave the building a modern look.

New Land hired Recyclean to raze the structure. The firm normally performs deconstruction, not mechanical demolition, on structures, salvaging materials for reuse. And that was originally the plan in this case, but those repeated alterations have reportedly stripped the building of salvageable material. “There’s not a lot to save,” New Land managing director Tim Gokhman told Urban Milwaukee. Recyclean is recommending it be demolished instead.

The permit lists an estimated cost of $29,200.

The building is currently owned by Jose G. Zarate, an investor who owns a number of properties in the neighborhood. He acquired the property, through a limited liability company, for $183,895 in 2016.

New Land will purchase and merge the 3,500-square-foot site with the adjacent 17,500-square-foot lot to create the final development site. A certified survey map to unify the two properties is pending before the Common Council.

Korb + Associates Architects served as the architect on Quartet and is now working with New Land on Element. The firms have partnered on many New Land projects in recent years.

Gokhman told Urban Milwaukee in August that both Quartet and Element are targeted at creating affordable, new construction without a government subsidy. He said there is a large market of people that make enough that they don’t qualify for buildings subsidized by low-income housing tax credits, but can’t afford high-end new buildings. Developers have struggled to service that market segment due to a variety of factors including construction and land costs, zoning regulations and financing.

He said Quartet is an example of trying to reach that “aggressive price point” with a newly-constructed building. The strategy includes reducing the number of on-site amenities (no pools or large club rooms) and finding the right balance for the scale of the building. “I think we were able to do it at Quartet,” said the developer. “We were able to build an aesthetically and design-oriented building at an affordable price point.” One-bedroom units rent for between $1,200 to $1,300 per month, with two-bedrooms starting at $1,500.

The partners secured a zoning variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals in October for the project. It is 10 feet taller than the zoning code allows, and does not meet the minimum window coverage (glazing) requirements for the first floor.

A handful of nearby residents testified at the meeting, two suggesting that the market-rate development would bring increased crime and traffic to the neighborhood. But the Department of City Development endorsed the proposal, noting that the department was pleased with a series of modifications made at their suggestion after the design was first submitted.

“Some of the things people are bringing up aren’t related to the variance in question,” said area Alderman Jose G. Perez. “I am in a difficult place because I have people in favor and against it.” He thanked New Land for working with the city on the project and following the area plan.

“We love Walker’s Point,” said Gokhman in August.

Gokhman said part of the draw to the site is the road diet applied to S. 5th St. The city, in 2018, narrowed the roadway and expanded the sidewalks. “The remake of 5th Street, honestly, that should be the recipe,” said Gokhman of future street projects. For more on the changes, see our coverage from 2018.

Construction on the new structure is expected to begin this spring, with completion expected for summer 2022.



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