Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

The Milwaukee Public Museum’s Big Week

Plus: A recap of a busy week for Milwaukee real estate news.

By - Feb 28th, 2021 10:59 am
Milwaukee Public Museum Reef Rendering. Rendering Luci Creative

Milwaukee Public Museum Reef Rendering. Rendering Luci Creative

It was a milestone week for the Milwaukee Public Museum.

The museum spent $8.1 million acquiring the 2.4-acres where it hopes to build a new home for itself and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. Governor Tony Evers announced his budget includes $40 million in state support for the $240 million project. And it also became public that the museum is likely to get a new name as part of the project.

But the milestones weren’t all wins. MPM President and CEO Ellen Censky revealed to her board that the museum’s re-accreditation was put on hold. It’s something museum officials spoke openly about at length in 2019 and had been signaling concern about in years prior.

“This status is not a surprise because of the condition of the building and the threat to the present collections,” said Censky to the board on Thursday, as first reported by Lauren Anderson. A new, 230,000-square-foot facility is intended in part to address maintenance issues, a backlog of which was estimated to total $87 million in 2019.

Representatives of the American Alliance of Museums conducted a site visit in 2020 as part of the organization’s consideration of a 10-year accreditation award. Its announcement of a hold tables a decision for one year.

But back to the good news.

The Evers announcement is a major step forward for the project. But doesn’t immediately award any cash to the project, nor officially promise any in the future. The Legislature must approve it as part of a bigger capital budget, which includes $163 million for a new state office building at N. 27th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave.

“We want to thank Governor Tony Evers for his recognition of the importance of this statewide institution to Wisconsin’s past and its future,” said Censky in a statement. “This is the first of several milestones in the Capital Budget process, and we look forward to working with Governor Evers and the State Legislature to ensure the project remains in the budget, as every culture and corner of our state is reflected in the new museum.”

The budget also refers to the facility as the Wisconsin Museum of Nature and Culture. The natural history museum could get a new name, but that’s far from certain. Fiserv Forum, located two blocks south of the proposed museum site, was known as the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center for much of its construction.

There is one thing that is certain: an affiliate of the Public Museum (Historic Haymarket Milwaukee, LLC) now owns the property, made up on three adjoining sites. it hopes to build on at the northeast corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave.

It paid $3.1 million for the 49,319-square-foot property at 1340 N. 6th St. owned by James T. Barry III, $2.5 million for the 21,392-square-foot-property at 1310-1312 N. 6th St. owned by Daniel Druml and $2.5 million for the 26,151-square-foot property at 520 W. McKinley Ave. owned by Jennifer Bartolotta.

The properties have a combined assessed value of $3,085,600. There are buildings on each of the sites that will need to be razed to form the development site.

Weekly Recap

See The Future Associated Bank River Center

Associated Bank bought the 28-story Milwaukee Center, 111 E. Kilbourn Ave., in 2016 for $60.5 million. Now, the Green Bay-based bank is spending millions more reshaping the building’s common area as part of rebranding the 373,000-square-foot building as the Associated Bank River Center.

The bank has approximately 500 employees in the building, but isn’t the sole tenant. It’s also not the only building in the complex that fills the entire block bordered by E. Kilbourn Ave., E. Wells St. N. Water St. and the Milwaukee River.

The complex houses the Saint Kate The Arts Hotel, the Pabst Theater and The Patty & Jay Baker Theater Complex (home of three venues for The Milwaukee Rep). A parking garage runs underneath the entire block.

Read the full article

Senior Housing for Lower East Side

A new assisted living facility is taking shape on Milwaukee’s Lower East Side. But the building it will occupy has been there for decades.

The Fenwick Building opened in 1966 at 1442 N. Farwell Ave. as an office building. Now, after changing hands numerous times in the past three decades, it is becoming a 65-bed assisted living facility.

Read the full article

Shorewood Debates Affordable Housing

The Shorewood village trustees face a significant choice at their meeting next week Monday.

They could establish an approximately $2.5 million fund to support future affordable housing efforts, or provide property tax relief one year earlier.

Read the full article

Food Hall Planned for Downtown

A new food hall could fill a long-vacant building at 733-737 N. Milwaukee St. Or it could be coming to a vacant riverfront building at 107-115 E. Wells St.

Kyle McKechnie, a Chicago-based real estate broker, filed two sets of identical plans with the Department of Neighborhood Services for pre-submittal review. The move is a precursor to a formal application.

A total of 20 stalls, each with individual kitchens, would be included according to a floor plan that matches the approximately 5,700-square-foot Milwaukee St. building. The basement of the building would be utilized for food storage and four of the food preparation spaces.

Read the full article

The Foxconn Real Estate Show

More than three and a half years after Foxconn signed a memorandum with Gov. Scott Walker promising to turn Racine County into the Silicon Valley of Wisconsin, the company still isn’t manufacturing anything. Other than press releases. 

But it continues to put up buildings. As one Foxconn employee told The Verge, in describing the utter failure of the project in Racine County: “When you’re desperate and you have no product to sell and the only asset you have is land, what can you do? You build on it or you grow crops on it.” 

Read the full article

251 Apartments Planned for Buca’s Site

New Land Enterprises is moving forward with a proposal to develop a nine-story apartment building on an L-shaped site in Milwaukee’s East Town neighborhood.

The City Plan Commission will consider a zoning change for the property, 1237 N. Van Buren St., at its March 8th meeting.

The new building would include 251 market-rate apartments and a two-story commercial space at the corner of N. Van Buren St. and E. Juneau Ave.

Read the full article

Plan Redevelops Pre-Civil War Building

A historic Walker’s Point building would be redeveloped primarily into apartments under a plan from developer Robert Chandler.

The four-story, 16,487-square-foot building, located at 235 S. 2nd St., would see one-bedroom apartments constructed on its upper three floors while the first floor would be preserved as two commercial stalls.

The plans are subject to the approval of the Historic Preservation Commission because the building, known as the Borger Building, is historically protected by the city as part of the South Second Historic District that encompasses the whole block.

Read the full article

Puddler’s Cottage Given Temporary Historic Protection

The Historic Preservation Commission unanimously granted temporary historic protection to a one-story, 1,397-square-foot house at 2530 S. Superior St. on Wednesday. It’s a precursor to a bigger debate on granting permanent historic protection to most of the block.

“Unlike some of the big grandiose mansions we have looked at in the past, this is a worker’s cottage,” said commissioner staffer Carlen Hatala in presenting her report on the property.

Believed to be built in 1868, the house is known as a puddler’s cottage. The nearby rolling mill constructed and sold the small structures to its employees. Puddlers were ironworkers that formed molten metal into higher quality iron.

Read the full article

New Event Venue Planned for Third Ward

A new event venue, known as the Coach Yards, is proposed for a vacant lot at the south end of the Historic Third Ward.

The site, 100 N. Jefferson St., was most recently targeted for a three-story, 16,000-square-foot office building by developer Peter Renner.

In a February 2020 interview, Renner said that he would also develop a turn-key development on the site for another operator.

Now he’s found that operator in Black Swan Enterprises. He’ll sell the site to the firm.

Read the full article

Phase Two of City Place Apartments Advances

A new apartment building will be constructed on a vacant site north of Fiserv Forum under a plan from Thirty Six Blocks and the Haywood Group.

Known as City Place Two, the four-story building will consist of 32 two-bedroom units set aside at below-market rates for individuals making less than 60% of the area median income and six, three-bedroom townhomes available at market rates.

The city would sell the underlying parcels to the development team for $30,000 combined. It represents the reactivation of an expired 2017 development agreement to develop three buildings on the block bounded by W. Vine St., W. Walnut St., N. 5th St. and N. 6th St.

Read the full article

Nominations Open for 2021 Mayor’s Design Awards

The call for entries is open for the 2021 Mayor’s Design Awards, the 24th annual installment.

The awards program recognizes “design excellence” in the City of Milwaukee. Eligible projects must have been completed before December 31st, 2020.

Read the full article

Milwaukee Youth Arts Center Expanding

Ground will be ceremonially broken Tuesday to expand a youth arts center just north of downtown Milwaukee. But it will be done with a sledgehammer.

The Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, home of First Stage and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, will build out its space within a former Schlitz Brewing plant at 325 W. Walnut St.

The organization will expand into the lower level of the building, adding two rehearsal halls, six studios and six small-group instruction rooms. The existing space, spread over a first floor and mezzanine level, includes offices, five rehearsal spaces, nine studio rooms and two practice rooms.

Read the full article

Evers’ Capital Budget Spends $2.4 Billion

Gov. Tony Evers‘ latest capital budget would spend almost $2.4 billion on new building projects around the state, with more than $1 billion of that going toward projects at the University of Wisconsin System.

The capital budget would also fund a new office building in Milwaukee, plan for a new office building in Madison, and build new facilities to treat juvenile offenders once the Lincoln Hills juvenile prison is closed.

Read the full article

Build a Better City From Your Couch

You won’t have to get on a plane or train to get to the Congress for New Urbanism in 2021.

The annual event, focused on improving cities, draws more than 1,500 people, including planners, architects, developers, elected officials and city lovers.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is shifting to a virtual format for the second straight year. The difference in 2021 is that it’s being planned that way from the outset, which organizers hope will boost the event quality and draw a more diverse audience.

Read the full article

New Apartment Building for Walker’s Point

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.

Read the full article

Press Release: Spring Groundbreaking for Marquette Building

The Marquette University Board of Trustees has approved breaking ground for a new home for Marquette Business and innovation leadership programs at 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, the former site of McCormick Hall. The $60 million, 100,000 square-foot facility will be the largest fully donor-funded construction project in university history.

“This marks a defining, historical moment for Marquette,” President Michael R. Lovell said. “Our new facility will serve as a major catalyst to grow the pipeline of future Catholic, Jesuit-educated business leaders for years to come. We have witnessed truly remarkable generosity for this project by our passionate Marquette community.” Lovell added that this is an important step to fuel Marquette’s strategic plan, Beyond Boundaries.

Read the full press release

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