Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Downtown Apartments Plan Goes Kaput

Plan to convert old Sentinel Building in limbo. Plus: recap of the week's real estate news.

By - Jan 29th, 2023 03:54 pm
The Sentinel Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Sentinel Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The future of a downtown office building is in limbo after a plan to redevelop it into apartments fell apart.

An investment group led by Adam Gollatz intended to convert The Sentinel Building, 225 E. Mason St., into 33 apartments.

Constructed in 1892 and home to the namesake newspaper until 1930, the 10-story building was 70% vacant when Gollatz’s Mason Street Ventures LLC acquired it for $2.1 million in February 2021.

But come January 2023, the slender building is back in the hands of prior owner Doug Young, who leads an Illinois-based investment group. State real estate transfer records show it was transferred in lieu of foreclosure.

Young told reporter Tom Daykin that the 2021 sale was structured as a land contract. The seller-financing structure calls for the new owner to make regular payments to the seller instead of buying the property outright for a lump sum.

The redevelopment proposal might not be entirely dead. Young said he is still considering advancing the plan. But his Sentinel Suites LLC group is also accepting offers for the building.

The property is listed for sale for $2 million through Colliers International broker Joe Eldredge. Only a single office tenant remains, with the listing flyer highlighting the redevelopment proposal.

The residential conversion will divide floors two through eight into a mix of studio and one-bedroom units. Floors nine and 10 would be home to four two-story units, a function of the elevator stopping at the ninth floor.

Patera worked on the design of the plans for Gollatz’ group.

The building’s height hides the fact that it’s a small structure by downtown standards.  The 10-story building has 30,848 square feet of space according to city assessment records. A single floor in the 25-story BMO Tower to the north is more than 25,000 square feet.

The Romanesque Revival-style Sentinel Building was designed by architect Walter A. Holbrook. It was part of what was then known as Newspaper Row, a collection of publishers located on E. Mason St. Starting in the 1960s it was known as the Loewi Building, when the similarly-named financial firm occupied every floor and eventually purchased the building.

It was eventually purchased by Milwaukee-based investor Max Dermond and then sold to Young in 2018 for $1.53 million, when it was reportedly 50% vacant.

Regardless of what happens to the Sentinel building, a number of aging downtown office buildings are finding new life with new uses.

The Street Car Flats project at 828 N. Broadway is adding apartments to a former insurance office building, the Adams Hotel project at 790 N. Jackson St. will replace offices with hotel rooms and the Kinn Guesthouse hotel project at 602-606 N. Broadway turned an office building into apartments. A number of other potential redevelopment projects loom, like the 100 East building and the Johnson Controls complex.

West of the river, the former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel complex is now an education pipeline with a high school, student housing and market-rate apartments.


Weekly Recap

Committee Approves Funding for Suburban Affordable Housing Projects

The Milwaukee County Board’s Finance Committee recommended funding four suburban affordable housing projects Thursday, but not before one supervisor tried to block the financing of a development that would provide affordable, independent living options for residents with disabilities.

The board is considering releasing approximately $9.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for four affordable housing projects in the suburban communities of Wauwatosa, Brown Deer and South Milwaukee. They are the first to receive funding from a $15 million pool of funds the county set aside in 2022 for suburban affordable housing.

The county’s housing division worked with the Community Development Alliance (CDA) to find affordable housing projects it could help get off the ground with funds from the county’s $185 million ARPA allocation.

The proposed awards include $2 million for a project with 56 affordable units being developed by Jewish Family Services at 4114 W. Woodale Ave. in Brown Deer, $2.48 million for 56 units being developed by MSP Real Estate Inc. at 11500 W. Burleigh St. in the Mayfair Collection in Wauwatosa, $2.5 million for 82 affordable units to be incorporated into Scott Crawford Inc. and J. Jeffers & Co’s redevelopment of the former Bucyrus Plant, 1100 Milwaukee Ave., in South Milwaukee and $2.5 million for 17 units at 7501 W. North Ave. in Wauwatosa being developed by Luther Group.

Read the full article

Five-Story Farming Complex Proposed For South Side

Beyond Organic, a nonprofit organization focused on healthy food education, has big plans for a parking lot just south of W. Mitchell St. on Milwaukee’s South Side.

The organization is proposing to develop a five-story, 85,000-square-foot facility that, according to a Department of City Development report, would house a store, restaurant, event space, classroom, aquaponics operation and vegetable growing operation. A site plan includes a rooftop farm and solar panels.

A request to grant the organization an exclusive right to negotiate for the purchase of the city-owned site at 716 W. Windlake Ave. is pending before the Common Council. Currently used as a parking lot, the site is listed as covering 0.71 acres between N. 7th St. and N. 8th St.

The Wauwatosa-based 501(c)(3) organization is led by Laura Michele.

Read the full article

Brookfield Alderman’s Blast at Affordable Housing Ignites Controversy

Tension is building on the city of Brookfield’s common council over an affordable housing project. In late November, the Flats at Bishop Woods housing development earned final approvals from the council. The 203-unit project, the ambition of a California-based developer, would offer affordable rents in the wealthy suburb.

The housing project, a development of Lincoln Avenue Capital which also owns properties in Madison, would offer housing for $400 less than the average Brookfield resident currently pays. Funded by a state energy grant, the development would be built on a 3.707-acre lot in the Bishops Woods office park. The four-story project would have mixed-use dwelling spaces, and would include 312 parking spaces.

The project is an example of workforce housing — meaning it targets middle-income workers who earn 60 to 120% of the median area income, including professions such as police officers, firefighters, teachers, health care workers and retail clerks.

Read the full article

After Years of Delay New King Library Coming

After seven years of planning, the development team behind a new Martin Luther King Library branch and connected apartment complex is gearing up for a spring groundbreaking.

“This project has been a long-time coming,” said Milwaukee Public Library library construction manager Sam McGovern-Rowen to the City Plan Commission on Monday afternoon. “We are just thrilled to finally be here.”

The new library will be built at the corner of N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and W. Locust St. and continue the city’s successful model of replacing stand-alone libraries with new facilities located on the first floor of larger, tax-paying buildings.

It will occupy approximately 18,000 square feet at the base of a four-story apartment building developed by Emem Group and General Capital Group. The 93-apartment proposal also includes the partial demolition and redevelopment of the Garfield Theatre to the north and the construction of a second new apartment building at the far northern end of the block.

Read the full article

Design Team Chosen For Bronzeville Arts Center

The Bronzeville Center for the Arts (BCA), a quickly growing Milwaukee nonprofit focused on showcasing African American art, is moving full-speed ahead on its proposal to redevelop the former Wisconsin Department Natural Resources site at the corner of N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and W. North Ave.

BCA won a competitive bidding process in 2022 to buy the site for $1.6 million and intends to develop a “world-class art and cultural center.”

The organization has conceptual plans to develop a 50,000-square-foot facility at the 3.4-acre site, including an auditorium and exhibition space, as well as a green space with a sculpture walk.

The complex, the nonprofit announced Tuesday, will be designed by Milwaukee-based M&E Architects+Engineers with support from HGA. Michael Emem‘s Emem Group will serve as BCA’s owner’s representative.

Read the full article

City Asks Judge To Seize Northridge Mall From Chinese Owners

The City of Milwaukee wants Northridge Mall stripped from U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group, the mall’s Chinese ownership group.

In a motion filed following a status conference Tuesday morning, the city formally asked Judge William Sosnay to strip Black Spruce’s title to the property and grant the complex to the city. It’s the first time the city has asked to be given ownership of the blighted property.

“Despite being willing to expend a large financial commitment to fighting to maintain ownership of the properties, Black Spruce has intentionally allowed its massive space to deteriorate to the point of being almost worthless,” says the city’s motion. “It is only a matter of time before someone dies or is seriously injured because of the lack of security at the properties.”

It argues Sosnay has the legal authority to do so given the sustained noncompliance with an August ruling to secure the property. Sosnay, at multiple points, has found Black Spruce to be in contempt of court.

Read the full article

BMO Tower Lands Another Tenant

BMO Tower‘s facade is made of glass, but it’s functioning like a magnet.

Financial firm Fiduciary Management, Inc. filed plans with the city to build out an office on the 21st floor of the building, 790 N. Water St. It follows a permit request last week from real estate broker CBRE to open an office in the building.

Fiduciary would be moving two blocks north, from its current home on the 22nd floor of the 100 East office tower. That 35-story building is currently in receivership, in part due to the relocation of Michael Best & Friedrich from the top six floors of 100 East to the top three floors of BMO Tower.

Fiduciary, according to its website, had $13.5 billion in assets under management as of the end of 2022. It operates four mutual funds in addition to its money management offerings. Ted Kellner founded the company in 1980, but stepped down as CEO in 2010. The current president and CEO is John Brandser. Patrick English is the executive chairman, past CEO and co-chief investment officer. Jonathan Bloom is the other co-chief investment officer.

Read the full article

A New Battle Over Mary Nohl Home

Every decade or so, with the regularity of a hothouse corpse flower bursting into bloom, officials of the Village of Fox Point consider a zoning modification to allow limited access to the Mary Nohl home where the artist [1914-2001] lived and where she created an environment of her own inspiration and labor from found objects, many washed up on the beach outside her door. The home, where she spent the majority of her long life, is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The dwelling itself is covered with her bas-relief sculptures. Although most of the interior has been relocated, the home, with outdoor concrete sculptures made on-site by the owner, remains. And remains a point of contention.

Past proposals always raised a stink in the North Shore suburb, especially among residents of the isolated lake-level North Beach Drive, where the Nohl property occupies two adjoining lakefront lots at Nos. 7254 and 7328. A foul political aroma arises whenever use of the Nohl property is in debate.

Read the full article

Wisconsin Center Will Keep Living The High Life

It’ll be Miller Time when the Wisconsin Center District (WCD) opens its $456 million convention center expansion.

The WCD will continue to serve Molson Coors beers and other beverages for the next three years as part of a renewed sponsorship agreement. The agreement comes as the district gets ready for the spring 2024 opening of the Wisconsin Center’s expansion. It also covers the Miller High Life Theatre, including maintaining the naming rights agreement, and the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

WCD, Molson Coors and distributor Beer Capitol jointly announced the agreement Friday.

“Molson Coors has had a longstanding relationship with the Wisconsin Center District since the opening of its convention center in 1998,” said Dan Idstein, general manager of sales at Molson Coors, in a press release. “Molson Coors and Wisconsin Center District share the same goal of elevating Milwaukee as a vibrant city. We are thrilled that Molson Coors and our more than 1,700 Milwaukee employees can continue to support our local community through this renewed partnership.”

Read the full article

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

One thought on “Plats and Parcels: Downtown Apartments Plan Goes Kaput”

  1. Polaris says:

    Disappointed the Sentinel Building’s plans are no more but love, LOVE the use of “kaput” in a headline. Very M’waukee! 🙂

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