Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Jeffers Starts Work on Second Journal Apartment Project

Verdigris joins Westtown Green project in former newspaper complex.

By - Aug 3rd, 2021 10:13 am
Journal Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Journal Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Construction work is underway on Verdigris, the second new apartment building to be carved out of the former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel complex.

Verdigis will fill the signature Journal Building, 333 W. State St., with 141 market-rate apartments. The six-story building was originally built in 1924 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as being locally historically protected.

The first project, known as Westtown Green, includes 77 units targeted at Milwaukee Area Technical College in the Journal Building’s 1962 addition to the east and will open this fall.

“We are excited to instill new life and restored beauty into this iconic, historic building in the very heart of downtown and leading into the city’s thriving sports and entertainment district,” said project developer Joshua Jeffers in a statement. “This western portion of the block will evolve into a beautiful, historic residential property with modern amenities, and we are thrilled to have construction underway.”

Amenities include underground heated parking, a coworking lounge and rooftop clubroom and deck.

Verdigris is a word for the green patina that forms on copper or brass, with Jeffers noting that the Journal Building is partially covered in the substance.

The projects were previously jointly referred to as Journal Square Lofts.

An environmental cleanup of the Journal Building was completed over the past year. In addition to offices for employees, the building long held the printing presses for employees. The projects jointly received $1.7 million in loans from the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee to support environmental remediation.

The newspaper vacated the complex in late 2020, while the printing press operation was relocated in 2004 to a new plant in West Milwaukee.

A rooftop solar installation is planned as part of the redevelopment.

The general contractor on both projects is CG Schmidt. The design is being led by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

A press release issued Monday indicates that the total development costs of the two projects has risen to at least $63 million. The Verdigris costs are given as $35.6 million, while the Westtown Green costs were previously reported as $27.7 million.

Illinois-based Busey Bank is the construction lender on Verdigris with Midland States Bank serving as a bridge lender and US Bank as an equity investor. The project financing relies on federal and state historic preservation tax credits.

A portion of the units in Westtown Green will be set aside at below-market rates for individuals making less than 60% of the county median income. The City of Milwaukee provided $1 million through a developer-financed tax incremental financing district, which functions like a property tax rebate, to support the affordable housing component and restoration of a frieze depicting the history of communication that Journal Communications removed in 2011.

Veridigis is expected to be completed in Fall 2022.

The former Sentinel Building on the southwest portion of the complex is being redeveloped as a home for Tenor High School. A surface parking lot on the southeast corner is slated to become a Tempo by Hilton Milwaukee hotel.

The projects are located in the Westown neighborhood, a block south of Fiserv Forum.

J. Jeffers & Co. acquired the entire complex in 2019 from an affiliate of newspaper owner Gannett.

Journal Sentinel Complex Photos


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