Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

EIGHTEEN87 Adding Riverfront Affordable Housing

Permit filing indicates new building will soon rise immediately to its west.

By - Jun 30th, 2023 05:43 pm
Construction is progressing on the EIGHTEEN87 on Water apartments. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Construction is progressing on the EIGHTEEN87 on Water apartments. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The final shape of a new apartment building being constructed on a long-underutilized Milwaukee River site is now visible. Another new building could soon join it.

The five-story EIGHTEEN87 on Water will include 79 apartments, 60 of which will be set aside at affordable rates for those making no more than 60% of the county’s median income. Sixteen of the affordable units will be reserved for those with disabilities.

Developer Brandon Rule of Rule Enterprises is co-developing the project with Madison-based nonprofit Movin’ Out. Continuum Architects + Planners is leading the design. Emem Group is serving as the owner’s representative. Catalyst Construction is serving as the general contractor.

It replaces a one-story industrial building at 1887 N. Water St., just west of N. Humboldt Avenue. New Berlin Grading started demolishing the prior building on the site in November 2021. It was originally constructed in 1972, long before the rest of the corridor had been redeveloped as high-end housing.

Pile driving for the new building, which sits on a bluff, started last June. It’s long since given way to the sound of hammering.

“It’s a really, really difficult site to build on,” said Rule in July 2021 when the Common Council approved a zoning change to enable the project.

A riverwalk will wrap the building, located high above the river, to line up with that of Riverbridge Condominiums to the east. The steel structure that will support the EIGHTEEN87 riverwalk is now visible.

During the zoning approval process, the building’s footprint was shifted west in response to feedback from neighbors. Then-alderman Nik Kovac publicly endorsed the project despite the objections of some nearby residents. It replaced a 2013 market-rate project planned for the same site that Kovac noted didn’t engender the same amount of negative feedback.

Using its standard partial-funding formula, the city is providing the project with $2.1 million to build an extension of the Milwaukee RiverWalk. It is to be paid back via increased property tax revenues from the tax incremental financing (TIF) district used to finance that section of the riverwalk.

An additional $700,000 from the district will go to build a riverwalk to the west on the planned second phase of the River House apartment complex and for a sloped public access segment that will bridge the height difference between EIGHTEEN87 and River House. Construction permits were recently filed for that long-awaited project.

EIGHTEEN87’s financing became more complicated after Rule secured low-income housing tax credits in April 2020. Construction prices spiked, but the credits remained the same. The income tax credits are the central financing source for most new affordable housing in Milwaukee. Many projects were delayed by the issue.

Unlike other affordable housing projects in the city, no TIF subsidy is being used for the building itself. But other financing sources have helped the development.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago provided $900,000. Governor Tony Evers also created a federally-funded $20 million program designed to help close financing gaps in tax-credit-funded projects and included Rule’s project as a recipient.

EIGHTEEN on Water LLC paid Carl Tomich $1.4 million for the 0.95-acre property in November 2021.

Rule previously developed two Milwaukee apartment buildings. The buildings, SEVEN04 Place and THIRTEEN31 Place, are named for their location on W. National Ave., just east of where Rule grew up and his parents still live. He’s working on a third, Greenfield Ave Commons in the Freshwater Plaza development. In May, Rule secured low-income housing tax credits for that development.


July 2021 Renderings

Pre-Construction Site Photos

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