Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Historic Designation Could Block East Side Apartments

A seven-story 90 unit apartment complex versus two modest 1899 homes.

By - Jul 29th, 2021 10:19 am
2279 N. Summit Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

2275 and 2279 N. Summit Ave. in February 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

An apartment building proposed for the corner of E. North Ave. and N. Summit Ave. may need to be reconfigured if two houses on the site are designated as historic by the City of Milwaukee.

Historic preservation advocate and area resident Dawn McCarthy applied for city-level protection for the houses at 2275 N. Summit Ave. and 2279 N. Summit Ave.

Developer Brian Wagner of TamaRock Ventures, who is seeking to develop a seven-story, 90-unit apartment building on the corner, applied to demolish the houses as well as two four-unit structures along E. North Ave. But the Summit Avenue permits are now on hold as McCarthy’s temporary and permanent designation requests play out.

“Built in 1889, these buildings are similar in character to those included in the designation report for the North Point South [district],” wrote McCarthy in her nomination. That district, which includes a number of the city’s most valuable historic homes, is located to the east of N. Summit Ave. and overlooks Lake Michigan. Houses on the east side of the block are included, but the two proposed for demolition are not.

The subject houses are two-story, 1,662-square-foot structures. Both are wood-frame buildings.

“It seems likely that because some of these houses on the west are slightly more modest than the ones across the street that they may not have been included due to a bias toward designating larger houses and mansions,” wrote McCarthy. But she says the houses are all of the same period and part of the same subdivision, Glidden and Lockwood’s Addition.

The Historic Preservation Commission can grant a 180-day temporary designation, effectively a restraining order, while it considers permanent designation. The permanent designation must also be approved by the Common Council.

Local historic designation would not prohibit the structure’s demolition, but it would require a certificate of appropriateness be issued for any exterior modifications (including demolition). In a handful of high-profile cases the Common Council has overruled the historic commission to grant a certificate or deny designation.

Wagner leads an investment group that purchased the properties after the proposal was first introduced in February 2020. A community meeting, hosted by area Alderman Nik Kovac, drew substantial opposition from area residents because of concerns about the then-undisclosed development group, building height, traffic and density.

A reconfigured project, which placed the bulk of the building closer to E. North Ave. and Ascension‘s Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, was revealed in March 2021. The building now tapers down to the south, reducing its massing as it approaches the historic houses.

A zoning change to enable the project as proposed is still required. JLA Architects is serving as the project architect.

McCarthy is a resident of the adjacent North Point North historic district. She did not file for historic designation of the northern-most properties in the development site, 2231 E. North Ave. and 2239 E. North Ave. Those two-story buildings were constructed in 1943.

For more on the proposed building, see our coverage from March.

Wagner did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.



4 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Historic Designation Could Block East Side Apartments”

  1. CraigR says:

    Looking at the photos it appears that no one would lament the loss of these particular structures. It seems to me that this nomination is an abuse of the historic designation, which only will make it harder to save significant buildings in the future. The proposed building looks in scale with the hospital across the street and it seems that the developer has tried to make some concessions to please the neighbors. It’s a significant investment in the neighborhood, which as a city resident, I think is great. Part of preserving our neighborhoods is assuring that we have an adequate tax base.

  2. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Regarding Brian Wagner of TamaRock Ventures apartment building proposal…

    That apartment building is one of the ugliest looking structures that I’ve seen in a long time. For Milwaukee’s sake, I hope that monstrosity never gets built. If that thing ever gets built, it will be torn down within 50 years.

    Please don’t tear down those nice houses for an ugly apartment building like that. It gives me a case of depression just looking at it.

    My 8 year old neighbor could design something better than that.

  3. tornado75 says:

    hmmm ugly big building with no character or two small houses built more than one hundred years ago

  4. SamStremlow says:

    @Jeramy Jannene You should drive by these two houses now and take updated photos. The exteriors are currently torn to shreds.

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