Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Iron District Gains More Apartments

Four floors of apartments planned atop existing building. Plus: Recap of the week's real estate news.

By - Apr 9th, 2023 03:34 pm
803 W. Michigan St. in 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The eastern side of 803 W. Michigan St. in 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

An office building slated for demolition would be spared as part of reconfiguring the proposed mixed-use Iron District complex at the southwest corner of downtown Milwaukee.

Four stories of apartments would be added to the top of the western side of the two-story office building at 803 W. Michigan St.

The eastern side of the building would still be demolished, clearing part of the site to be used for a hotel, live entertainment venue and soccer stadium.

The 132,334-square-foot building was most recently occupied by the North Central High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area law-enforcement partnership and nonprofit Safe & Sound, but was long home to the Milwaukee Insurance Company and later UMB Fund Services.

The oldest portion of the structure dates back to 1927, with additions made in 1941 and 1953, a substantial remodeling in 1968 and a final addition in 1980 according to the Wisconsin Historical Society‘s website. It’s the 1980 addition that would be saved.

Bear Development CEO S.R. Mills announced the changes in plans Thursday while speaking at the Hispanic-focused Urbano real estate conference.

“We’ve looked at that as an opportunity to see if we can create additional housing and additional life in and around the district,” Mills said, according to a report from Sean Ryan. “We’re able to pretty succinctly fit an additional four stories on top.”

The change, said Mills, was accommodated because the 1980 addition was designed to allow an addition of up to eight stories. Ryan reported that the two-story base would be reconfigured as an events venue, with a traditional, wood-framed apartment building above. The addition also includes underground parking.

Similar to the 99-unit apartment building Bear is starting construction on immediately to the west, Bear would pursue a subsidy to make the new units affordable to lower-income residents.

The city has already approved vacating the stub-end portions of N. 8th St. and N. 9th St. that straddle the building. The one-block-long W. McAuley Pl. at the rear of the building is a state-controlled right-of-way, a remnant of the Marquette Interchange’s 2004 reconfiguration that would be removed if the development progresses.

Mills also announced that the development team is seeking a Hispanic company or individual to work under its mentorship on one of the many aspects of the project, including financing, construction or sports business operation. The opportunity is expected to be posted on the Hispanic Collaborative website in the next 90 days.

The Hispanic Collaborative was also listed as the youth programming partner in a $9.3 million public funding request for the 8,000-seat soccer stadium. Governor Tony Evers endorsed the request in February, but the State Building Commission deadlocked on the proposal. The Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance will next review the proposal.

Kacmarcik Enterprises is leading the development of the soccer stadium component and would own the proposed USL Championship League men’s soccer team. According to the building commission report, the development team would provide $35.7 million to advance the stadium. The stadium is to use artificial turf. Marquette University‘s soccer and lacrosse teams would also play at the venue.

More changes will eventually come to the Iron District plan. At the eastern edge of the 10-acre site, a long-shuttered Ramada Hotel is being deconstructed. A future use for that parcel, which is located at the corner of N. 6th St. and W. Michigan St. has yet to be identified. The entire Iron District complex is expected to cost $160 million to develop.

Site Photos

Iron District Renderings

Weekly Recap

Nova Nears Completion

Downtown Milwaukee’s newest apartment building is preparing to welcome its first residents.

Nova, a nine-story building, now anchors the intersection of N. Van Buren St. and E. Juneau Ave.

A newly-launched leasing website invites future residents to “shine brighter” or “live bolder” by moving into the building when it opens this summer.

Developer New Land Enterprises‘ website shows 16 floorplans, with rental rates starting at $1,625 per month for a one-bedroom layout, $2,695 for a two-bedroom and $4,360 for a three-bedroom. The two-level, two-bedroom townhomes facing N. Van Buren St. start at $3,750.

Read the full article

Baldwin, Crowley Promote Foreclosure-to-Affordable Housing Program

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin visited a foreclosed, run-down home in Wauwatosa Thursday to promote a county initiative to rehab foreclosed homes for affordable housing stock.

In 2022, Crowley signed off on a $19 million plan to use federal COVID-19 stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support affordable housing around the county. Part of that spending allocation included $3 million for a program to rehabilitate tax-foreclosed properties and then sell them at affordable prices to new homeowners. Then, Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore got an additional $5 million for the effort included in the 2023 federal spending bill.

With $8 million, the new county program will not only refurbish these homes, get them back on the tax rolls and increase affordable housing opportunities for Milwaukee families, but it will also give people incarcerated at the Community Reintegration Center (CRC) an opportunity to learn a skilled trade.

Ezekiel Community Development Corp. is a non-profit contractor that works with the county’s Community Reintegration Center (CRC) on its Opportunity Knocks program giving people work experience rehabbing homes while they’re still incarcerated.

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Bill Could Help ‘Innocent Purchasers’ Clean Up Contaminated Property

When Ken Koeppler first heard the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wanted to visit his property, he didn’t think he had anything to worry about.

Koeppler, a Madison resident, bought the building in 1987 and lived there for 17 years before turning it into a rental property. In 2015, the DNR asked Koeppler if it could drill into the basement to check for contamination.

Prior to the DNR’s inquiry, Koeppler had no idea his property once housed a now-defunct dry cleaning business — or that it was contaminated.

“I said, ‘Of course, let’s find out if there’s something going on here,’ and I feel that they misled me at that time,” Koeppler said. “As soon as they had taken vapor samples underneath my building, they named me the responsible party for all aspects of anything having to do with the contamination that was down there.”

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Wisconsin Center Won’t Reconsider Removing Literary Artwork

Yesterday Urban Milwaukee reported that the Wisconsin Center District will be destroying a permanent installation of literary artwork in the convention center that was installed in 1998 with texts from 48 different Wisconsin writers going back hundreds of years.

The public art work was created under the leadership of the Milwaukee Arts Board, with support from then-Mayor John Norquist and included texts from such famous Wisconsin writers as Laura Ingalls Wilder, John Muir, Zona Gale, Aldo Leopold, Edna Ferber, Glenway Westcott, Lorine Niedecker and Carl Sandburg (from the years when the poet lived in Milwaukee).

“It is a live, on-the-wall anthology that is not duplicated anywhere in the country, as far as we know, where writing is treated as being just as important as any other art form,” said Karl Gartung, who served as artistic director of the nonprofit book store and arts center Woodland Pattern, which was involved in the year-long process of finding and selecting the texts.

Because the work was permanently installed, it cannot be removed in any way that will preserve it. The work will be destroyed in the process of removing it.

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