Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Teak Townhomes Offer Unique Format

Developer's second project on Lower East Side replaces vacant lot near Pulaski Park.

By - Jun 20th, 2022 11:32 am
Teak Terrace. Rendering by Striegel-Agacki Studio.

Teak Terrace. Rendering by Striegel-Agacki Studio.

A new apartment building is quietly rising in the Brady Street area, just south of Pulaski Park on N. Arlington Pl.

Second-time developer Eric Grethe is constructing a four-unit building, effectively a row of townhomes, at 1813-1815 N. Arlington Pl. It’s known as Teak Terrace, a nod to the Asian-grown lumber that will form its facade.

“It just wasn’t to my taste to do some cubic standard looking multi-family situation,” said Grethe. “It was just too boring.”

Working with architect Joel Agacki of Striegel-Agacki Studio, Grethe is developing a building that will appear like one three-story house from the street. But, owing to the depth of the lot, the structure will effectively be four-attached townhomes oriented along a driveway.

Each will have a three bedroom layout and contain a sizable outdoor deck. The units on each end will be slightly taller and larger, bookending the structure.

Grethe said each townhome would be around 2,000 square feet and lease for approximately $3,000 per month. Each has an independent mechanical system and could be converted and sold as a condominium in the future.

The structure, including the decks, will be clad in teak lumber. The higher-end hardwood, originally from Asia, is known for its durability. “We imported a whole shipping container of teak wood,” said Grethe, who is of Thai ancestry. It was milled by a Wisconsin lumber mill for use in the complex.

A basketball court, built on permeable pavement, will be included at the rear of the site. A four-car garage is also planned, to be shared by the middle units, while the bookend units will have attached garages.

“This should be really geared towards people that are younger and maybe have families but are geared towards an active lifestyle,” said the developer.

Grethe, a master plumber by trade, said all of the stormwater would be captured on site by a catch basin hidden under the basketball court.

A fifth unit, which Grethe called a “really cool, one off” teak house, could be constructed above the garage in the rear of the site. It would need a zoning variance as an accessory dwelling unit, but similar rear cottages exist up and down the block.

Developer Jason Pietsch, with a design from Agacki, secured approval in 2019 to build seven townhomes on the vacant lot and the adjoining property at 1819-1821 N. Arlington Pl. Grethe said he first considered the same property combination, which would have directly overlooked the park, but wasn’t able to reach an agreement to buy the four-unit building from a third party. Grethe instead purchased just the 8,600-square-foot vacant lot from Pietsch for $141,000 in 2020. The lot has been vacant since at least 2001 according to city permit records.

Grethe is serving as his own general contractor through his firm GMI Solutions.

The Arlington project is the second building Grethe has developed, and the second vacant lot on the Lower East Side he’s filled. He completed a four-unit development at 2208-2214 N. Newhall St. last year.

“Newhall went really well,” said Grethe of the fully-leased project.

The latest project is scheduled to be completed this winter.



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