Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

New Third Ward Tower Will Be Milwaukee’s Priciest

And The Couture isn't far behind. Plus: A recap of week's real estate news.

By - Mar 3rd, 2024 04:58 pm
333 N. Water St. proposal. Rendering by Solomon Cordwell Buenz.

333 N. Water St. proposal. Rendering by Solomon Cordwell Buenz.

Rental prices at the two new downtown apartment towers might cause sticker shock for longtime Milwaukee residents, but developers of both towers remain confident they’ll find plenty of renters.

A newly-launched website for 333 Water, a 31-story luxury tower across from the Milwaukee Public Market, reveals that renting the cheapest apartment in the building will cost $2,175 per month ($3.87 per square foot). The first units are expected to be available in June.

The cheapest available apartment in The Couture, a competing 44-story tower located along the lakefront, is available for $2,045 per month ($3.55 per sq ft). Move-in for the lower floors in The Couture is to begin next month.

Prices predictably climb for larger units, though the price square foot rate falls. A two-bedroom apartment at 333 Water starts at $3,644 ($3.44 per sq ft), while the cheapest available two-bedroom at The Couture is $3,865 ($3.39 per sq ft).

The most expensive apartment at 333 Water is a 31st-floor, 1,810-square-foot penthouse with a $9,425 per month list price and three bedrooms. The most expensive remaining unit in The Couture is a 43rd-floor, 1,680-square-foot apartment with a $8,075 per month list price and three bedrooms. But pricier units at The Couture have already been leased. The two 44th-floor penthouses were leased shortly after tours began in January and had asking prices in excess of $11,500 per month.

The prices are a function of the construction costs for the concrete towers, the number of amenities, the land prices for marquee development sites and market demand. Representatives of Hines, the developer of 333, and Barrett Lo Visionary Development, the developer of The Couture, have expressed optimism that the properties will lease up relatively quickly given their locations, amenities and unmet market demand for high-end apartments.

Unlike suburban McMansions, a key selling point for downtown rentals is what’s available immediately outside of the apartment, both in terms of tenant-only amenities and nearby attractions. 333 Water offers the market, Historic Third Ward and riverwalk, while a half-mile to the east The Couture offers the lakefront, downtown office towers and museum campus. Both are located directly on The Hop streetcar system, with a station located inside the base of the building at The Couture, and both developers have cited the system as a draw. Each tower will offer an outdoor pool and amenity deck, as well as ample indoor amenities such as a club room and fitness center.

The Couture includes substantially more commercial space, though both buildings are expected to house at least one restaurant eventually. Designed by RINKA, The Couture has a double-ellipse shape that developer Rick Barrett hopes will make it stand out nationally as an architectural achievement, while the Solomon Cordwell Buenz-designed 333 Water is nearly rectangular and, during the design process, became shorter and stockier as a result of economics. Many of the units in both buildings have balconies, with even the lower units likely to offer views for miles.

The case for both buildings was bolstered by the construction of the 35-story 7Seventy7, a Northwestern Mutual investment property that opened in 2018. The 310-unit building had initial unit prices ranging from $1,415 to $7,485 per month and leased up quickly. Hines, one of the largest real estate developers in the country, served as the insurance company’s developer on the project and firm officials said the project’s success encouraged them to pursue the Third Ward tower. The Couture, on the drawing boards since 2012, will supplant 7Seventy7 as the tallest residential building in the state.

The 25-story Ascent, the world’s tallest mass timber building, opened in 2022. Its 259 apartments drew strong interest, not only for the high-end amenities included, but for the exposed wood design.

There are signs that Milwaukee’s high-end rental market might not have limitless demand, especially with rising interest rates and construction costs. Two East Side towers are approved, but not expected to begin construction this year. Willow Partners‘ 25-story 1550 building was put on hold last year. New Land Enterprises, developer of Ascent, is similarly waiting on starting its 24-story, 346-unit tower. The Mandel Group is also continuing to delay building Portfolio where the East Side meets Downtown. There is one project that could start this year, but it depends on raising enough equity. The Neutral Project hopes to start construction this year on The Edison, a 32-story, 381-unit mass timber tower at a downtown riverfront site.

Weekly Recap

A Historic Gem at 17th and Muskego

Nowadays, when a retail business puts up a brick-and-mortar building, they are largely all the same, often concrete warehouses. The oversized logo above the entrance is what captures buyer’s attention, not the architecture. A hundred years ago was a totally different story.

A tiny retail building on South Muskego Avenue shows this contrast well.

It was a turn-key property built by the Starszak Realty Company in spring 1929. Actually, it was an alteration to an already-existing building from 1909 for the G. H. and S. W. Gottschalk real estate firm, designed by Leiser & Holst. Starszak hired contractor H. Gersonde to complete the work, which featured a single-story brick façade with a mansard roof and tile decorations.

The tile decorations included several panels featuring handmade tiles from the Continental Faience & Tile Co., of South Milwaukee. These included square insets embellished with decorative tiles and a large centerpiece on the parapet. The design has geometric and floral motifs enhanced by unglazed, warm-colored tiles that contrast with turquoise glazed tiles.

Read the full article

Public Approval Process Starting For Country’s Tallest Mass Timber Building

The Neutral Project is pursuing zoning approval for its proposed 32-story riverfront apartment tower, The Edison, while it actively seeks investors to develop the 381-unit, $145 million building.

The tower, 1005 N. Edison St., would be the tallest mass timber building in the country when completed, eclipsing Milwaukee’s own 25-story Ascent tower.

Ascent set the world record in 2022, but an even taller building is already under construction in Sydney, Australia and is expected to claim the world record at more than twice Ascent’s height.

Mass timber is an engineered product made by combining layers of wood to create a strong, environmentally-friendly building material.

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140-Year-Old Florist Closing

A wholesale florist is walking away from the Milwaukee market after more than 145 years.

Denver-based DWF Wholesale Florists will shutter its Milwaukee facility, at 425 W. Walnut St., on March 1.

The company, in a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, says the closure will result in the elimination of eight jobs. Seven of the positions are paid on an hourly basis.

Originally a Milwaukee company, whose history goes back to the 1870s, it joined DWF in 1974 but, until 1987, was known as American Wholesale Florists of Milwaukee. Even earlier it was known as Holton and Hunkel, a locally-grown firm that acquired several smaller firms early in its rise.

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Opening of St. Augustine Prep at Former Cardinal Stritch Campus Postponed

St. Augustine Preparatory Academy’s north campus in Fox Point is being postponed a year, following school leaders’ assessment of  buildings at the former Cardinal Stritch University site.

The new campus will open in fall 2026 with just over 300 students. The campus will include an elementary school program for students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, along with a high school that will only accept ninth graders in its first year.

The school plans to grow to eventually serve more than 1,000 students.

The $100 million project, funded primarily by the Ramirez Family Foundation, will involve demolishing several buildings dating back to the 1960s, according to a press release.

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How A Billboard Saved A Vacant Building

Tasnique Love is looking to move her growing printing business out of her house and into a vacant building at a busy northside intersection.

The one-story building at the corner of W. Appleton Avenue and W. Burleigh Street is unusual for what sits above it, a billboard. The billboard, the industry standard for which is 672 square feet, would nearly cover the 980-square-foot building if laid atop it.

But it’s the billboard that drew Love to the property, 6411 W. Burleigh St.

She once rented the billboard to put up a photo of her two kids with the message that their parents were proud of them.

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Milwaukee Landlord Berrada Drops Lawsuit Against Tenants Union

A lawsuit filed against the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union (MATU), a local network of housing activists, by one of Milwaukee’s largest landlords, Berrada Properties, has been dropped. On Saturday, the tenants union celebrated the dismissal of the lawsuit, which revolved around claims made and issues raised publicly by MATU organizers.

The tenants union organizers have long raised concerns about landlords who they charge provide substandard housing, largely in low-income minority communities in Milwaukee. After a November 2022 fire at a property owned by Berrada Properties, a rental housing empire owned by Youssef  “Joe” Berrada, resulted in the death of a young child, MATU called attention to issues at Berrada properties such as faulty wiring, which could result in fires. Activists held protests alongside the child’s mother while also questioning the relationship between the city’s Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) and Berrada, whose practices are under investigation by the state Department of Justice.

Berrada filed the defamation lawsuit in June 2023 in the more conservative Ozaukee County, where Berrada lives. It cited social media posts made by MATU and denounced the group’s usage of words like “slumlord” and “parasites” to describe landlords. Attorneys representing MATU told Wisconsin Examiner in August that the lawsuit wasn’t the first time Berrada had attempted to silence the housing and tenant advocacy group.

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Crowley Signs First in State Housing Proposal

County Executive David Crowley signed legislation Monday providing $1 million for a novel affordable housing project in the city of Milwaukee Uptown neighborhood.

KG Development is planning an $8.8 million redevelopment of a former Jewish Home at 2436 N. 50th St. to create a mix of affordable housing and crisis housing, as Urban Milwaukee has reported. It is rare that these two types of shelter are put together in the same building, and officials believe it is the first time in the state’s history there has been a project like this.

The project will include 10 individual, crisis housing units in one wing of the building and 21 affordable-rate apartments in the other. The crisis housing will be available to anyone who is without shelter because they are experiencing a crisis, which could include homelessness or domestic violence. Though, the county’s Housing Division does not plan to limit what sort of crisis will qualify someone for the housing.

“One of the things we see all the time and the reason it’s called crisis housing, is oftentimes individuals are in a traumatic situation, and they need respite from that situation immediately; not tomorrow, not the day after that,” said Housing Division Administrator James Mathy. “So this will be one of the first ways we’ll able to pull somebody out of that crisis, give them immediate housing, and then link them to affordable housing throughout the entire process.”

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2 thoughts on “Plats and Parcels: New Third Ward Tower Will Be Milwaukee’s Priciest”

  1. Marty Ellenbecker says:

    New Third Ward Tower Will Be Milwaukee’s Priciest.

    There goe$ the neighborhood!

  2. I am glad to see downtown Milwaukee grow. Private developers who build more housing respond to market forces, and the resulting building’s tax base for the city helps city services everywhere. Without these private developers, demand for housing in a growing downtown Milwaukee would bid up the price of existing housing, including presently affordable housing. My little studio apartment, if developers do not build new housing, would rocket in price so that I would have to live somewhere else, along with many, many others, so I cheer on all housing to be built–at all levels of income–in order to increase supply. Housing is subject to the dynamics of supply and demand and moderates in price when its supply meets market demand at all income levels. The biggest impediment to more affordable housing is not the high-profile tall and expensive buildings but the relentless NIMBYism of people who reject affordable or even moderately-priced housing near them. This NIMBYism–not private builders responding to market demand–is the drag on affordable housing. Further, taller buildings represent a positive step in urban development compared to suburban sprawl, which destroys natural habitats, wetlands, and agricultural land. Taller housing in the center city reduces travel time (and automobile use) for downtown workers. Affordable apartments are in the works in many areas of the city.

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