Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Furniture Store To Become Apartments

118-year old Paul Weise store on Farwell will become 11 apartments.

By - Nov 9th, 2021 01:13 pm
1534 N. Farwell Avenue, the Paul Weise Furniture Building. Photo from the City of Milwaukee.

1534 N. Farwell Avenue, the Paul Weise Furniture Building. Photo from the City of Milwaukee.

For 118 years, the goal of the owner of the building at 1534-1542 N. Farwell Ave. has been to get people to carry furniture out of the building. Soon people are more likely to be carrying furniture into the building.

An investment group led by Illinois-based real estate investor Samuel Grossman acquired the Paul Weise Furniture Building for $900,000 and will convert the building to high-end apartments as part of a $3 million project.

It’s just the latest investment on Milwaukee’s East Side for Fairchild Acquisition, but it marks a notable change. Instead of rehabilitating an existing apartment building, Fairchild will be changing the entire use of a structure.

But Grossman doesn’t think it’s a big deviation from his plan to build an East Side portfolio.

“It goes to my entire theme. I love this location,” he said in an interview. “We believe in the location. We believe in the demand.”

The three-story, 15,300-square-foot building was built in 1903 for the furniture store. It was designed by famed Milwaukee architect Alexander Eschweiler. The store specialized in high-end end furniture first for the nearby mansions, and later for the condominium and apartment towers that replaced them.

But in 2017 it faced an uncertain future. A conceptual proposal surfaced to potentially demolish or substantially alter the building. The structure, as a result, was locally designated as a historic building. The designation does not prohibit demolition, but makes it substantially more difficult.

Building owner and business operator Steve Stein, along with investor Paul Carl Weise Jr., ultimately didn’t move forward on that plan. The store closed in October. The building is assessed for $414,100.

Grossman, who grew in Fox Point, will now attempt to create 11 residential units in the building. Any exterior alterations will be subject to Historic Preservation Commission.

“I’m not knocking it down,” said Grossman. His proposal would not rely on historic preservation tax credits, but he said he intends to honor the history of the place.

He said his family is almost as connected to the area as the Weise family. The first job for Grossman’s grandfather was a paper route in the area and the real estate investor has many childhood memories in the area.

Milwaukee-based broker Nathan Glaisner of Verde Investments, represented Fairchild on the acquisition. Glaisner has served as the broker on all of Fairchild’s Milwaukee acquisitions.

Fairchild acquired eight buildings, totaling 89 units, between October 2020 and June 2021.

It has a goal of building a portfolio of 200 apartments in Milwaukee, targeted primarily at the area between UW-Milwaukee and E. Ogden Ave. The firm lets leases lapse and then modernizes the units, giving them “condo-style” finishes and pushing them up-market in an effort to attract non-student residents at a higher price point.

“We believe in creating value in buildings by modernizing the interiors, while maintaining the historic look of the exterior and the balance goes along with it,” said Grossman in an April interview about his vision.

The firm anticipates selling the portfolio after five years. It has begun liquidating a portion of its Edgewater neighborhood portfolio in Chicago.

The Paul Weise project is expect to be completed in late 2022 or early 2023. A team led by a local contractor and architect is being finalized said Grossman.

What’s next? Grossman told Urban Milwaukee that his firm has two properties under for contract by the end of the year.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us