Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Iron District Developers Buy Site

Apartments, soccer stadium, hotel and concert venue planned.

By - Jun 22nd, 2022 04:59 pm
Iron District proposal. Rendering by Kahler Slater.

Iron District proposal. Rendering by Kahler Slater.

The development team behind the Iron District, a proposed downtown entertainment district, acquired the underlying properties for $12.3 million.

Marquette University sold the properties to affiliates of Kenosha-based Bear Development and businessman Jim Kacmarcik. The approximately 10-acre site is located southwest of the intersection of W. Michigan St. and N. 6th St. and backs up to the Marquette Interchange.

Bear, serving as master developer, intends to develop an apartment building, hotel, 3,500-person concert venue and 8,000-seat soccer stadium on the site. Additional development could occur on the eastern side of the site along N. 6th St.

According to real estate documents posted Wednesday by the State of Wisconsin, the site includes nine properties: 525 N. 6th St., 545 N. James Lovell St., 555 N. James Lovell St., 521 N. 8th St., 531-533 N. 8th St., 533-547 N. 9th St., 547 N. 9th St., 633 W. Michigan St. and 803 W. Michigan St.

The soccer stadium development is being led by Jim Kacmarcik, the CEO of Kapco Metal Stamping and Kacmarcik Enterprises. Kacmarcik owns the Forward Madison men’s soccer team and is a minority investor in the Milwaukee Bucks.

His newly-created entity, Iron District MKE LLC, paid $3.87 million for two acres of land which state records use more than 700 words to explain. Based on a cursory review of the description, the property matches the footprint of the stadium in the renderings.

A new professional soccer team would be created to play in the stadium, as well as Marquette University‘s men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse teams using it as their home field. It would have an artificial turf playing surface.

Affiliates of Bear own the rest of the site.

The new concert venue would be led by the Pabst Theater Group, but the company is not listed as a land owner in any state real estate documents. A national, third-party partner, believed to be AEG, is expected to be included in the development, but is also not referenced in the documents. The venue is likely to compete with a new venue in the Deer District and The Rave.

The hotel would include 140 guest rooms. It would overlook the soccer stadium.

The 99-unit, affordable apartment building is the farthest along of any component and would be built independent of the other components. As it does for many affordable housing projects, the city would create a tax incremental financing district to close a financing gap. Bear would receive $1.8 million plus interest that is to be generated by increased property tax revenue from the development. The five-story building would be located on a largely vacant site at W. Michigan St. and N. 9th St.

For a period of 30 years, all of the apartments in the $27.5 million development would be set aside at below-market rates for households making no more than 60% of Milwaukee County’s median income. Twenty-nine of the units will serve households with a maximum income of 50% of the area median income.

Bear completed the 49-unit 700 Lofts affordable apartment complex in 2015 at 700 W. Michigan St., just across the street from the Iron District site.

Most of the newly-acquired site is vacant land. Much of it was created by the 2005 redevelopment of the Marquette Interchange and the removal of a circular on-off ramp.

The vacant Ramada hotel, 633 W. Michigan St., and an office building, used by Marquette’s Department of Psychology, at 525 N. 6th St., were included in the sale. Renderings depict those buildings as still standing, but the properties could be redeveloped in a future phase.

A two-story, 132,334-square-foot office building at 803 W. Michigan St. would be demolished.

Marquette assembled the site starting in 2014 for a planned, $120 million Athletic and Human Performance Research Center in partnership with Aurora Health Care. But Aurora pulled out of the project and Marquette ended up building a scaled-down version at 733 N. 12th St., closer to the middle of its campus. The university secured city approval to rezone the site in 2020 to the city’s C9G designation for “mixed activity,” which allows retail, service, light manufacturing, warehousing and residential uses.

Site Photos

Rendering and Site Plan

Iron District Renderings

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