Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Wiegand Sells Apartment Buildings to Finance New West Side Hotel

Plus: A recap of the week's real estate news

By - Jun 13th, 2021 08:00 am
Some of the properties sold by Wiegand Investments in June 2021. Photos by Jeramey Jannene.

Some of the properties sold by Wiegand Investments in June 2021. Photos by Jeramey Jannene.

Real estate developer Rick Wiegand is cashing in his chips to make an even bigger bet.

Wiegand, praised by city officials for his commitment to the Near West Side, rehabilitated the Ambassador Hotel at 2308 W. Wisconsin Ave. and a number of nearby apartment buildings in the past three decades.

On June 8th he sold almost all of his apartment buildings to fund a new, extended-stay hotel, the Grand Avenue Suites, in the former Wisconsin Avenue School, 2708 W. Wisconsin Ave.

In 14 transactions, Wiegand Investments netted $16.15 million, less the cost of paying off any outstanding loans.

Approximately half of the properties are on or adjacent to the block bounded by W. Kilbourn Ave., W. Wells St., N. 21st St. and N. 22nd St. The others are on W. Wisconsin Ave. or W. Michigan St. near the Ambassador Hotel.

The largest is the 55-unit Sheridan Apartments, 2435 W. Wisconsin Ave., which Wiegand pursued national historic designation for last year in order to obtain historic preservation tax credits to support its rehabilitation. That property, built in 1927, fetched $2.35 million.

“Newer” buildings (constructed in the 1960s) at 825 N. 22nd St. and 833 N. 21st St. were sold for $2.99 million and $2.88 million. They contain 33 and 34 units respectively.

According to state real estate records, the properties were acquired by Zio Pekovic and Sal Becovic of Becovic Management Group. The company owns and manages a number of buildings on Chicago’s North Side.

Wiegand secured an extension earlier this year to allow more time to redevelop the school. He purchased it in December 2017 from the city for $200,000, with the proceeds going to Milwaukee Public Schools. He had until the end of 2020 to complete the project and previously said that he would move forward once a new state office building was constructed across W. Wisconsin Ave. But that project has only partially moved forward, with Republicans on the Wisconsin State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voting last week to strike funding to develop the new building from their version of the budget. Wiegand is now pushing ahead despite the delays from the state.

“I support the extension,” said area Alderman Robert Bauman in January. “Mr. Wiegand has invested a substantial amount in Near West Side commercial properties, many of which were severely blighted.”

He praised Wiegand for his commitment to “high-quality projects in challenged neighborhoods.”

The 92,600-square-foot school, which was originally built in 1919, sits on a two-acre site at the busy intersection of N. 27th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. MPS last used it in 2007. Quorum Architects, based out of the Near West Side, is leading the design work on the redevelopment.

Wiegand didn’t sell all of his neighborhood holdings. He still owns the Ambassador, its annex across the street and an apartment building, Roosevelt Arms, immediately west of the Ambassador. He also owns industrial properties along W. Clybourn St. and a collection of buildings just north of the former Wisconsin Avenue School along N. 27th St.

It’s those latter buildings that will play into Wiegand’s bigger vision for the area. He is working on the redevelopment of the former Tower Theater and Milwaukee County City Campus office complex located immediately north of the proposed hotel.

“This is part of a cohesive campus that needs to be integrated using these attributes of all the properties involved,” said Wiegand in January to a city committee. “Original plans for the conversion of the suites involved repurposing the gymnasium as meeting and banquet space, but it was found that this would not only destroy the character of the school but the Tower Theater would be more ideal for this use.”

The space between the school and former theater will become Liberty Square, a plaza for guests and tenants.



Early Renderings

Property List

Breunig Buys Immigration Services Office Building

310 E. Knapp St. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva

310 E. Knapp St. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva

An affiliate of Sunset Investors purchased the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office building at 310 E. Knapp St. for $4.75 million.

Kendall Breunig‘s firm purchased the property from New Jersey-based Morristown Plaza Associates.

The property is assessed for $10.96 million.

The difference between the sale price and assessed value can be explained in part by the fact that the building’s anchor tenant could leave. The agency leasing the facility is an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Breunig told Alex Zank that negotiations are underway for a lease extension.

The 59,429-square-foot building was constructed in 2001. It is located at the north end of Downtown on the edge of the former Park East Freeway corridor. The property was last sold in 2008 for $4.44 million.

Breunig bought the facility as part of a tax strategy after selling six self-storage facilities in the Milwaukee area and is looking for more acquisitions as part of an effort to eliminate a potential capital gains tax bill. His firm’s marquee Milwaukee property is the Pritzlaff Building.

Weekly Recap

The Marquette Crater

Eventually things will rise, but right now there is a large hole in the ground at 1530 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Led by J.H. Findorff & Son, a large-scale construction effort that started in March has yielded a partially complete foundation for what will eventually be a four-story building.

Marquette University is building a $60 million home for its College of Business Administration and innovation leadership programs.

The university is billing the 100,000-square-foot facility as the anchor to the campus’s western gateway. The new building will include a sizable open atrium, classrooms, faculty office space, lab and study spaces and event space.

Read the full article

Sea Scouts Find New Home at Yacht Club

In April we reported that 2021 could become a swan song for the Sea Scouts Ship Invincible 299.

Port Milwaukee was terminating the no-cost lease held by the group, an arm of the Boy Scouts of America, for 62 years. Port director Adam Tindall-Schlicht said he had found a new tenant that would generate revenue for the city-owned port, create at least 10 jobs and provide enhanced access to an overlooked Lake Michigan pier.

The chainlink fence surrounding the scouts’ one-acre site at 2452 S. Lincoln Memorial Dr. has sported various signs with a message of “save our scouts” for the past year.

And now someone has.

Read the full article

Swigs Pub & Grill Up For Sale, For A Low Price

Swigs Pub & Grill3143 S. Clement Ave., in Bay View is for sale and the price indicates it’s a potential bargain.

A real estate listing from The Marciniak Team at RE/MAX Realty 100 offers the property, complete with bar, two-bedroom apartment and garage, for $260,000.

“Opportunity knocking with this multi-use property in Bayview! Well established tavern with regular clientele and attached home at the back of property,” says the MLS listing. “Spacious oval bar with space for 30 stools, 2 public restrooms, 1 private restroom, kitchen and lots of included equipment. Front bistro/patio seating. Full basement could be set up as hall to rent for parties. Have the best of both worlds running your own business and being so close by. Home has 2BR, 1BA, DR, den/loft and GAR. Great location close to freeway access and other businesses. Why wait? Come see it for yourself!”

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Cafe Planned Along Beerline Trail

The Riverworks Development Corporation will buy a vacant, city-owned building for use as a new cafe and community hub as part of upgrades to the Beerline Trail.

The nonprofit will purchase and partially demolish the 2,562-square-foot building at 274 E. Keefe Ave. Running diagonally on a former rail line, the Beerline Trail passes the building to its north and east.

Read the full article

Project Will Save Midtown Building

Bria Grant is working to turn a classroom project into reality.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Grant to members of the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Tuesday.

She plans to purchase and renovate the two-story, mixed-use building at 2501-2503 W. North Ave., in the Midtown neighborhood, creating a home for her nonprofit, UniteWI, a restaurant and some of the individuals UniteWI serves.

Read the full article

Walker’s Point Building Being Demolished

An industrial building originally constructed for Allen-Bradley is being demolished, creating a large developable lot at the south end of Walker’s Point.

A crew from Veit & Co. has spent the past week demolishing the western half of the 230,000-square-foot industrial facility at 1618 S. 1st St. A demolition permit indicates the older eastern portion, which backs up to the Kinnickinnic River Trail and Canadian Pacific railroad tracks will remain.

An October 2020 raze permit estimates the cost of the job at $1 million.

Read the full article

Bauman’s Demolition Moratorium Killed

Alderman Robert Bauman thought he had a straightforward idea.

With an influx of $394 million in federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and a stated priority from Mayor Tom Barrett to use a portion of the funds for affordable housing, Bauman proposed a moratorium on the demolition of city-owned properties with the intent of repairing the hundreds of houses the city acquires via property tax foreclosure.

“We can no longer complain ‘the extra cost, we don’t have the resources.’ Now we have the resources,” said the alderman, long a preservation advocate, in April when he first publicly floated the idea.

He introduced a resolution to codify his idea into city policy until funding decisions were made on the ARPA funds. But on Tuesday, representatives of two of the three districts with the most city-owned houses shot down his plan.

Read the full article

Hilton Confirms New Downtown Hotel

A new hotel, Tempo by Hilton Milwaukee, will open in 2024 at 915 N. Old World Third St. in Westown.

Hilton announced Monday that the hotel was one of 11 for which it had signed development agreements.

Proposed for what was a surface parking lot used by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the northwest corner of N. Old World Third St. and W. Kilbourn. Ave, the hotel would be developed by a partnership of FirstPathway Partners and HKS Holdings.

Read the full article

2021 Mayor’s Design Awards Announced

The annual City of Milwaukee Mayor’s Design Awards were virtual for the second straight year, but the projects are no less real.

“At its core, these awards have always been about the future,” said Mayor Tom Barrett in a video broadcast from the Walnut Way Conservation Corp’s Innovations and Wellness Commons development. “This is about the fact that people are investing in our community because they believe in our community.”

A total of 25 projects won awards, covering 10 of the city’s 15 aldermanic districts. The projects range from very big, like the 25-story BMO Tower, to rather small, like the vacant-lot-turned-market Vliet Street Oasis.

Read the full article

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