Ma Baensch Building Is For Sale
Plus: A recap of the week's real estate news.
A piece of Milwaukee history, and a longtime fixture in Riverwest is on the market.
The Ma Baensch plant, known for producing pickled herring, is listed for sale with Colliers International. Located at the corner of N. Humboldt Blvd. and E. Locust St. in Riverwest, the 9,651-square-foot building has been a food production plant since its 1915 construction.
The asking price is $539,000 for the 0.30-acre, corner lot, 1025 E. Locust St., and two-story building. As configured it has 15 parking spaces. A new roof and other updates were made starting in 2017.
The pickled herring isn’t going anywhere, it’s just coming from somewhere else. In 2021, the business switched to using a co-packer in Minnesota to produce the 12- and 24-ounce jars of marinated herring. It comes in two flavors: original and sour cream and chives. “To achieve efficient food packaging and meet safety requirements, it made sense for [Baensch] to move its entire production,” says a press release. The release also says that the Humboldt Boulevard reconstruction project and changes to Locust Street will eliminate the company’s north-facing loading dock area, “a challenge that is also impossible to overcome for Baensch.” The drive-in doors are directly adjacent to the sidewalk on Locust Street, while an elevated platform is included on the east side of the building.
Kim Wall purchased the business and property in 1999 and continues to operate the former. Co-packers have supported the business since 2004, which Wall attributes to a surge in demand.
Ma Baensch was founded in 1932 by Lena “Ma” Baensch. It moved to the Riverwest building in 1946.
The Cudahy Brothers Company (Patrick Cudahy) acquired the property in 1914 from the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company and erected the building as a meat storage facility.
Badger Auctions is selling the equipment in the facility in an online auction that closes June 21.
Ma Baensch announced that its headquarters will remain in Milwaukee County. But the address given is a P.O. Box at the post office at 1603 E. Oklahoma Ave.
$420 Million Convention Center Expansion Moving Forward
The $420 million expansion of the Wisconsin Center, “the new jewel of downtown Milwaukee,” continues to move forward, though a few different curveballs have been thrown its way.
The project will add 112,000 square feet of exhibition space to the convention center, creating a 300,000-square-foot main hall. Operationally, the facility will be able to host two conventions simultaneously. That will allow one show to load in or out while another operates, eliminating “dark” days.
The Wisconsin Center District (WCD) and VISIT Milwaukee will also have a new array of amenities to pitch in order to book more shows. Multiple outdoor decks, an indoor waterfall and revamped common spaces will wrap the convention hall. A new 2,000-person ballroom and 24 meeting rooms will also be added.
There are still nearly two years to go on the project. Construction is scheduled to be completed in early 2024 with the first events slated for May of that year.
Mount Mary, Partners Celebrate Opening Trinity Woods Complex
Known as Trinity Woods, the complex provides housing for the sisters of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, including assisted living units, as well as housing for single mothers attending the university and their children. An early childhood education center, operated by Wauwatosa, is available to residents, staff and the community. Shared dining, lounge, fitness and gathering spaces encourage the building’s residents, who could vary in age by nearly 100 years, to mingle.
Its name is a reference to the adjacent, 10-acre woods, the Catholic faith’s holy trinity, and the project’s three partners – Mount Mary, the School Sisters of Notre Dame and Milwaukee Catholic Home.
The $45 million development opened to its first residents in January, but a grand opening celebration was held this week.
New Group Takes Over Veterans’ Tiny Houses Project
A proposed tiny homes complex for military veterans is still scheduled to move forward on Milwaukee’s far northwest side, but under a new operator.
Kansas City-based Veterans Community Project (VCP) is replacing Racine-based Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin (VOW) as the owner and operator of the proposed complex. The new nonprofit operator opened its first community in 2019 in Missouri.
The Milwaukee project was first announced in 2019 for a vacant, city-owned site at 6767 N. 60th St. Split over two phases, it was to include 48 homes of approximately 240 square feet in size and a central community center for homeless veterans to develop life and professional skills while working to reenter society.
VOW bought the site for the first phase last year for $35,000, but never started construction.
Iron District Apartments Subsidy Gets First Approval
A subsidy for the proposed Michigan Street Commons apartment complex received its first endorsement Thursday.
The board of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee unanimously endorsed creating a tax incremental financing (TIF) district to support the building’s development. The five-story, 99-unit building would be located on a largely vacant site at W. Michigan St. and N. 9th St., in the southwest corner of Downtown.
Bear, using a variety of financing sources, would develop the building and then the city would rebate the increased property tax revenue generated by the development for a period of up to 19 years or until $1.8 million, and up to 5.75% interest, is returned. The strategy, increasingly used by the city to advance affordable housing efforts, places the risk on the developer.
Can Menomonee Valley Project Attract Tenants?
The fact that a developer is seeking to build an industrial building without any confirmed tenants drew plenty of questions from the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee Tuesday. But the development firm behind the project is confident it will find occupants.
Known as a speculative or spec building, the 180,469-square-foot flexible industrial structure could be leased to a single tenant or subdivided.
Such developments have been uncommon in the city proper, where land is more scarce, but have proliferated on suburban freeway corridors in recent years amidst a surge in warehouse demand.
It’s that scarcity along with urban amenities that is drawing developer Westminster Capital to the Menomonee Valley.
New Apartment Building, Rebuilt Parish Hall For St. Mark’s
A new apartment building planned for a grass lot just off N. Downer Ave. is the linchpin of a proposal to save the 111-year-old St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and build a sustainable future for the congregation. But it’s being designed to look like it was there all along.
The church would sell developer Michael DeMichele a 30,000-square-foot lot, currently a mix of grass and surface parking, and in exchange, DeMichele would demolish the adjacent parish hall and rebuild a modern, accessible structure in its place.
Working with architect Jim Shields of HGA and general contractor Catalyst Construction, DeMichele intends to build a 55-unit apartment building and a replacement for the 1949 parish hall that would integrate with the historic church structure, 2604-2644 N. Hackett Ave. The new hall would be owned by the church, while an investment group led by DeMichele would own the apartment building.
“Several years ago, we as a vestry [church board] were looking at how much time and money was being put into maintaining the 1949 building,” said St. Mark’s senior warden (board president) Brooke Frizzell in an interview. “It was becoming a considerable drain on our financial resources and our energy as a parish.”
Brewers Could Lose Money on TIF Deal
Back in 2004, the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau did a report on the Milwaukee Brewers’ finances that added a recommendation: that the team “should consider developing portions of the 265 acres of parking lots and vacant land around Miller Park,” as the Business Journal reported. “Commercial development could include restaurants and sports bars, a hotel, retail stores or parking ramps.”
“We raised the development issue because legislators have to be aware that a new owner of the team might put pressure on the state to allow for development,” said Janice Mueller, the state’s chief auditor from 1998 to 2011.
Clifton Crump Named To Zoning Board
A familiar face is returning to Milwaukee City Hall.
The citizen-led, part-time board oversees a wide variety of zoning issues, including approving the location of childcare providers, used-car dealerships and scrap yards. It reviews more than 700 proposals per year.
Crump is intimately familiar with the board’s inner workings. He previously served as its secretary, a full-time role within city government, from 2002 to 2008. And then Crump climbed through the ranks of Mayor Tom Barrett‘s administration, working as a project manager for the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, the mayor’s council liaison and, ultimately, the operations manager for the Fire & Police Commission. But Crump resigned abruptly in 2019 shortly after being passed over for the job of FPC executive director.
Coggs Building Could Be Razed
In spring 2021, the county’s Facilities Management Division reported that deferred maintenance had left the Coggs building in such a state that the county should sell the building, and soon. Then DHHS announced a few months later that the department thought the county should stay in the facility.
But a new analysis of potential redevelopment options for the 213,000-square-foot facility found that the most feasible path forward for a county-owned human services facility at that site would involve razing or selling the Coggs building and constructing a new and smaller facility on the site.
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