Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

The Edison Will Add Restaurant, Commercial Space to Riverwalk

Site is currently a floral warehouse. Developer secures approval to add landscaping, patio to city land.

By - Aug 20th, 2021 02:33 pm
The Edison rendering. Rendering by Michael Green Architecture and Angus Young.

The Edison rendering. Rendering by Michael Green Architecture and Angus Young.

The Edison, a proposed 15-story mass timber apartment building for 1005 N. Edison St., secured another key approval Thursday afternoon.

The board of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) unanimously approved a partial lease of the authority-owned parcel at 1027 N. Edison St. The grass-covered site serves as the eastern landing of the Highland Avenue pedestrian bridge.

“The building is being completely built on the private parcel,” said Yves LaPierre, Department of City Development real estate analyst.

The 194-unit The Edison would replace a one-story floral warehouse owned by Rojahn & Malaney Company. But in order to accommodate the riverwalk, publicly-owned parcels on each side would be modified.

The Neutral Project, the Madison-based development team behind the project, would lease the southernmost portion of the 0.43-acre RACM site for landscaping and a hardscape patio for a riverwalk-facing commercial space. Developer Nate Helbach said the stall, one of four in a row, is targeted at a restaurant.

“They are going to be upgrading the landscaping,” said LaPierre. The developer will also be responsible for management. Part of that landscaping includes a smoother, fully-accessible trail connection to the riverwalk. The current configuration includes two sharp turns.

Replacing a warehouse with an apartment tower is part of the Milwaukee River‘s evolution from afterthought to asset. The RACM parcel also reflects that change.

“It was used as a place for parking rucks for [the Department of Public Works] for years,” said LaPierre in response to a question from board member Bill Schwartz. The northern site, which borders townhouse condominiums, is heavily encumbered by underground utilities and sewer infrastructure. LaPierre said that infrastructure was put in place without much consideration years ago.

With little development potential for the RACM site, why not just sell it asked Schwartz?

“It’s a little bit more expeditious,” said LaPierre of the lease. The developer will pay $1 annually in addition to maintaining the landscaping for a period of 50 years.

The Neutral Project will still need a number of other approvals, despite the fact that the project almost entirely complies with existing zoning for the site.

On Monday the City Plan Commission will review the river-facing side of the facade because the building falls into a riverwalk facing design zone. The Common Council must also approve a similar landscaping lease for a small parcel the city owns directly at the southern end of the site, 1001 N. Edison St. in addition to approving the RACM lease.

The Historic Preservation Commission granted approval two weeks ago to modify the bridge abutment of the historically-protected State Street bridge. The Neutral Project would make the change to improve the southern riverwalk connection.

The Edison would be built with mass timber, an engineered product made by combining layers of lumber into a stronger material. It would be the third mass timber building in the city, joining the low-rise Timber Lofts and Ascent, a 25-story luxury apartment tower under construction in East Town that will be the tallest mass timber building in the world when completed.

Helbach said his firm is pursuing mass timber for its environmental benefits, but the natural wood aesthetic is also perceived by many to help attract and retain tenants. The emerging technology is lighter than concrete, faster to assemble and fire resistant.

The building’s architect of record and structural engineer is Janesville-based Angus-Young. Vancouver-based Michael Green Architecture is serving as the design architect.

For more on the building’s design, see our coverage from Aug. 12th.

Site Photos and Renderings

First Floor Plan

The Edison, first floor site plan. Site plan by Angus-Young/Michael Green Architecture.

The Edison, first floor site plan. Site plan by Angus-Young/Michael Green Architecture.

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