JSOnline.com

Hotel, apartments, breweries bring next round of Pabst developments to downtown Milwaukee

Written by Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Much has happened during the former Pabst brewery’s decade of redevelopment: a hotel at the former brew house, apartments in both new and renovated historic buildings, a university facility and other projects have revived empty structures and vacant lots.

But the picture won’t be complete until early 2019, with more than 430 additional apartments, a 150-room hotel and two new breweries highlighting the final development surge.

When that last phase is done, the 21-acre site, now called The Brewery, will include more than 800 apartments, two hotels, three office buildings, restaurants and taverns, as well as new streets and even two small parks — blending what was an isolated former industrial site into Milwaukee’s downtown.

The completed $100 million project, helped by $32 million in city financing, expands downtown Milwaukee’s footprint west from the site of the Milwaukee Bucks new arena and marks another huge addition to the ongoing downtown development boom.

The Brewery hasn’t drawn as much national attention as it deserves, said Robert Greenstreet, dean of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning.

“This is a staggering success story,” said Greenstreet, who also served as Milwaukee’s city planner from 2004 to 2009.

“I feel like it’s going to be a whole different place” within two years, said local developer Josh Jeffers, whose BrewLab Lofts will be among those new apartment buildings.

Added developer Mike Zukerman, “It’s really remarkable what’s going on there.”

Zukerman’s firm, New York-based Whitestone Realty Capital LLC, is converting the former Pabst malt house into 118 high-end apartments, known as The Brewery Lofts, 1009 W. Juneau Ave.

The project involves demolishing most of the interior and building seven new floors with new fixtures and restored windows.

That work was more complicated than anticipated.

The Brewery Lofts, originally due to open this summer, are now expected to open in early 2018, Zukerman said. He declined to disclose the increased project budget, which was initially estimated at $34 million.

The project’s financing includes federal and state historic preservation tax credits, which cover part of the restoration costs in return for following strict construction guidelines.

The one- and two-bedroom units will have monthly rents from around $1,600 to $2,000.

Two other apartment developments are to begin construction soon. Combined with Zukerman’s project, they will more than double the number of units at The Brewery.

Jeffers plans to begin work in July on converting two adjoined buildings at 1037 W. McKinley Ave. into 43 apartments. He bought the three-story buildings from Cardinal Stritch University, which is moving its College of Education and Leadership from the larger building to the university’s main Fox Point campus.

The smaller building has been vacant since Pabst Brewing Co. closed its operations in 1996 but since has been partially renovated. Pabst used both buildings for its research labs.

The $8 million project BrewLab Lofts is to be completed by March 31. The financing includes historic preservation tax credits.

The one- and two-bedroom apartments, including studio units, will have monthly rents from around $1,200 to $1,900.

Also, Indianapolis-based Milhaus Development is proceeding with its plans to build 274 apartments within two five-story buildings,  at 926 W. Juneau Ave. and 1003 W. Winnebago St. Those two locations are one block apart.

Milhaus plans to complete its purchase of the vacant parcels and begin construction this month, said Greg McHenry, director of development.

The $40 million project would likely have its first units available by summer 2018, with both buildings completed by spring 2019, McHenry said.

The Juneau Ave. building would feature 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and 110 apartments on the upper floors. The Winnebago St. building would have 164 apartments and a ground-floor leasing office and common amenities.

The development would include 27 apartments with around 350 to 400 square feet and monthly rents below $1,000. Those so-called micro units are a growing trend in Milwaukee and other cities.

The remaining units, ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments, would have rents of around $1,300 to $2,400.

Both the Milhaus buildings and Brewery Lofts will provide parking for residents at The Brewery’s 900-space central parking structure. BrewLab Lofts has a surface parking lot.

Other apartment developments at The Brewery are Eleven25 at Pabst student housing, developed in the former bottling house; Frederick Lofts; Blue Ribbon Lofts, developed in the former keg house; and Brewery Point senior apartments. Those buildings total just under 400 units.

Meanwhile, construction recently started on a six-story, 150-room Hyatt Place hotel at 821 W. Winnebago St. Deerfield, Ill.-based Janko Group plans to have the $27 million project completed by summer 2018.

It will be the second hotel at The Brewery. The 90-room Brewhouse Inn and Suites opened in 2013 in the former Pabst brewhouse.

Finally, The Brewery has an actual brewery, the first there since Pabst closed its operations more than 20 years ago, with another brewery on the way.

Los Angeles-based Pabst Brewing in April opened its Milwaukee brewery, restaurant and taproom at 1037 W. Juneau Ave., within the former Pabst training center and Forst Keller tavern.

The new $5 million Pabst brewery serves as a place to experiment with new beers and historical Pabst recipes.

Renovations are to begin this month on converting part of the former Pabst distribution center, 1131 N. 8th St., into a craft brewery operated by Milwaukee Brewing Co., as well as a restaurant, events venue and offices.

That 46,000-square-foot brewery, including a tasting room, is scheduled to open in May 2018, said Jim McCabe, Milwaukee Brewing owner. The company will continue to operate its smaller Walker’s Point brewery.

An adjacent restaurant, including a rooftop dining area, and events venue will total around 30,000 square feet and likely open next May, said building owner Scott Lurie. He said the restaurant and venue operator’s name will be announced soon.

The building also will feature around 50,000 square feet of offices, Lurie said.

The former distribution center’s redevelopment includes a self-storage center on the building’s lower level owned by White Plains, N.Y.-based Highland Development Ventures LLC. Known as Extra Space Storage, it will open around June 30, said Adam Hird, Highland managing partner.

Other office buildings at The Brewery include a former boiler house and the newly built Pabst Professional Center. Each has around 40,000 square feet.

The Brewery also features the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health, which combined a former Pabst warehouse with new construction, and Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, which includes a tavern, banquet rooms and a gift shop in the former Pabst offices and visitors center.

City spending to help finance The Brewery’s parking structure, street repairs, environment cleanup, demolition and other expenses have so far totaled $26 million and will likely eventually reach $32 million, said Jeff Fleming, Department of City Development spokesman. Those funds are being repaid through property taxes from The Brewery’s buildings.

The city debt will be paid off by 2032, according to a department estimate. The new property taxes will then go to the city’s general fund, Milwaukee Public Schools and other local governments.

The Pabst site was valued at $9.3 million before Zilber Ltd., led by the late Joseph Zilber, started the redevelopment work in 2007. The new and renovated buildings have so far created $64.2 million in additional property value, with a total new value of $98.9 million expected when the entire site is completely redeveloped, Fleming said.

Zilber bought most of the Pabst site in 2006, vowing to create “a great neighborhood, where people will want to live, work and shop.” An earlier attempt led by Wispark LLC to create PabstCity, a mixed-use project that included an entertainment focus, failed to win Common Council support for its $41 million city financing plan.

The council did Milwaukee a favor by rejecting that plan, said Greenstreet. He was then city planner in Mayor Tom Barrett’s administration, which pushed hard for PabstCity.

City officials supported PabstCity because it was the only viable plan for the crumbling brewery buildings, Greenstreet said. But that proposal would have involved demolishing more historic buildings than those eventually preserved under Zilber’s involvement, he said.

Zilber’s decision to take on the project as his legacy to Milwaukee was a blessing, Greenstreet said.

“Without Zilber, that would just be a collapsing site now,” he said.

Zilber’s conceptual plans for The Brewery called for fewer apartments, and more office and retail space, than has been developed. That shift to more housing is tied to the growing trend of both baby boomers and millennials living in urban areas, which has helped spark an unprecedented downtown Milwaukee development boom.

The Brewery’s completion, along with the new Milwaukee Bucks arena and other large downtown projects, will likely help spur investment to other nearby sites, said Larry Witzling, a longtime planner at Graef consulting firm.

“The big question is: how fast and where will it spread?” said Witzling, who helped create plans for the neighboring Park East area.

Tom Daykin can be reached at tdaykin@jrn.com

Apartments, library recommended for south side building

By Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel, Dec. 17, 2014

A south side building would be redeveloped into a Milwaukee library branch and 33 apartments under a proposal recommended Tuesday night by city officials.

The Forest Home Library, at 1432 W. Forest Home Ave., would be replaced by a new library branch on the street level of an underused four-story building at 906-910 W. Historic Mitchell St.

That $10.4 million project, proposed by a partnership of development firm Gorman & Co., property owner Mitchell Investment Properties and construction manager VJS Construction Services Inc., would include market-rate apartments on the renovated building’s upper floors, and 96-space parking lot.

The Milwaukee Public Library’s Board of Trustees selected the Gorman proposal over a competing proposal from Cardinal Capital Management Inc. and Journey House to develop a library, 51 units of affordable housing and additional commercial space within a new four-story building at 1135 S. Cesar Chavez Drive.

The trustees selected the Gorman proposal because its market-rate apartments complement the library and would create a catalytic project for the neighborhood, said Brooke VandeBerg,  library communications and marketing director.

The Mitchell St. location is central to the library’s service area, within a prominent business district, VandeBerg said.

Also, the project can be completed within a short time frame, and the developers have a secure financing strategy, including the use of state and federal historic preservation tax credits, she said.

The 80,000-square-foot building, built in 1919 as the Hills Department Store, is only about 30% leased, said John Kesselman, the property’s listing agent.

The building has had difficulties finding tenants since United Migrant Opportunity Services Inc. moved its headquarters to 2701 S. Chase St. around 10 years ago.

A board committee last week declined to recommend either the Gorman or Cardinal Capital proposal due to concerns about financing, and a lack of details. The Gorman proposal initially included affordable apartments, which would have needed additional tax credits for financing the project.

The board on Tuesday night also expressed interest in another proposal recommended by that committee: to replace the Mill Road Library, at 6431 N. 76th St., with a four-story structure to be built on a city-owned lot at 7717 W. Good Hope Road.

A partnership of Milwaukee-based Maures Development Group LLC, St. Paul, Minn.-based CommonBond Communities Inc., and Milwaukee-based Engberg Anderson Inc. would develop a library, 46 affordable apartments on the upper levels, potential street-level commercial space, on-site parking and outdoor green space, according to the conceptual plans.

Before making a final decision, the board wants more information on the Maures proposal, including a review of the developer’s market study, VandeBerg said.

Both projects also would require Common Council approval.

Tax credits revive historic renovations

By:  Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 8, 2014

Jim Haertel was considering the financing options for expanding his tavern at  downtown Milwaukee’s former Pabst brewery.

His decision was made much easier when state officials quadrupled the value  of a tax credit given to developers of historic preservation projects.

“We were on the fence,” Haertel said. “And suddenly that tipped the scales  toward definitely wanting to go for the credits.”

He is among several owners of historic buildings who are tapping the  increased tax credits, which are expected to cost state taxpayers millions of  dollars. The new credit level took effect Jan. 31, following the 2013  approval by the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker.

The new law raised the state income tax credit to 20% of the qualified  remodeling costs of historic commercial buildings, doubling it from 10%. The  Legislature passed the bill in October, just months after the credit was  increased from 5%. The state credit supplements a federal program that provides  tax credits for 20% of such costs.

The state tax credit’s boost received bipartisan support. Advocates said the  credit increase was needed to help Wisconsin compete with other states for  investor funding of preservation projects, which are more costly than new  construction. In return for the credits, developers follow federal rules on  preservation remodeling techniques and materials.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 31 states provide  historic preservation tax credits. Most of those credits are in the 20% to 25%  range for commercial restoration projects.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which operates the state program, has  seen increased interest from developers with the higher credit taking effect,  said Mark Maley, the group’s public information manager.

The higher credit may help attract national historic preservation development  firms to Wisconsin, said Milwaukee Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux.

It also could help bring to life commercial preservation projects that  otherwise would have languished because of feasibility concerns, he said.

“It’s a move in the right direction,” Marcoux said.

That higher credit level could be especially valuable for smaller projects,  said Matt Jarosz, an associate adjunct professor at University of  Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning. He’s organizing  a March 28 workshop about the state and federal tax credits.

“In the past, small projects just weren’t worth the complexity of the tax  credit program,” Jarosz said. “Moving to the 40% zone can start to make it  possible.”

Rebuilding history

Milwaukee historic developments under consideration include the possible  conversion of the upper floors of a downtown building into market-rate  apartments, Maley said.

The seven-story Posner Building, 152 W. Wisconsin Ave., features Mo’s Irish  Tavern on parts of the first and second floors, but is otherwise largely  vacant.

Kyle Strigenz, co-owner of HKS Holdings LLC, which is considering the  redevelopment plan, declined to comment, saying it was too early to discuss the  possible project. The Milwaukee firm has done other historic preservation  projects, including last year’s conversion of the former JH Collectibles  clothing factory into the 50-unit Junior  House Lofts, 710 S. Third St.

Another proposal on downtown’s west side would convert the Germania  Building, 135 W. Wells St., into 78 apartments, along with 14,000 square  feet of street-level commercial space. The developers, Endeavour Corp. and  Vangard Group LLC, have declined to comment on that proposed project, which  could combine tax credits for both historic preservation and affordable  apartments.

At the Pritzlaff  Hardware Co. complex, at W. St. Paul and N. Plankinton avenues, developer  Ken Breunig is continuing his restoration project and plans to use the higher  state tax credits. Portions of the buildings have been converted into offices  and banquet rooms, and Breunig is proceeding this year with plans to restore  additional space for commercial use.

“It has definitely helped make the numbers work,” Breunig said.

At the former Pabst complex, now known as The Brewery, Chicago-based Blue  Ribbon Management LLC hopes to begin work this spring on converting the former  Pabst bottling  house into apartments marketed to international students at Marquette  University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and other area colleges.

The increased state tax credits “will be a great help” in financing that  development, along with plans to convert a nearby former church into commercial  space, said Tom Gehl, Blue Ribbon Management chief executive officer.

Haertel is adding around 6,000 square feet of banquet space at the former  Pabst brewery’s visitors center and offices, known as Best Place at the Historic  Pabst Brewery, 901 W. Juneau Ave.

Best Place  includes a gift shop, Blue Ribbon Hall banquet room and The Little Tavern on The  Hill. The additional banquet space, converted from an 1880 office building, will  provide an additional room for wedding receptions and other events.

Haertel plans to spend around $750,000, with around $500,000 qualifying for  the preservation credits. Combining the state and federal programs would raise  around $200,000 in tax credits, which Haertel plans to use to reduce his income  tax bill.

A U.S. Small Business Administration loan through First Bank Financial Centre  is providing $670,000 for the project, with Haertel providing around $100,000 in  equity cash. He plans to begin the work in March, and have the banquet room  completed by July.

Cost to taxpayers

Elsewhere in Wisconsin, other projects tapping the higher credits include  separate plans to convert a former Manitowoc factory and a former Madison  seminary into apartments.

Oregon, Wis.-based Gorman & Co. is pursuing the Madison project, which  would create 87 apartments at the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center. The additional tax  credits help attract more equity cash because developers have the option of  selling them to banks and other investors, said company President Gary  Gorman.

“Some of our projects in the pipeline may be more feasible now,” said Gorman,  whose firm’s historic redevelopments include the Brew  House Inn and Suites at The Brewery, at 1215 N. 10th St.

Another project that was already in the works — but now will be easier to  finance — is the proposed redevelopment of a former Mirro Co. factory in Manitowoc into 40 apartments, an $8  million project known as Artists Lofts. Robert Lemke and Todd Hutchison, who  operate Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Redevelopment LLC, are the developers.

The higher credits “really enhance the viability of these projects,” said  Lemke. The firm’s other projects include helping with the planned restoration of  a historic Wauwatosa building into a charter school.

The higher credit comes at a cost for state taxpayers.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated the credit will cost taxpayers $8.6  million over the next two years, based on the level of past use by developers of  the credit when it was at the 5% level.

The agency also said quadrupling the credit’s value could result in a  significantly higher cost to the state if developers increase their use of the  program.

Supporters say the higher cost amounts to an investment that creates jobs and  higher tax revenues. Lemke also cites another benefit.

“We’re saving these buildings for future generations,” he said.

Read more from Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/business/tax-credits-revive-historic-renovations-b99198885z1-244545101.html#ixzz2swIFlHGx Follow us: @JournalSentinel on Twitter

Former real estate lawyer Gary Gorman overcomes early challenges to build successful business

By Tom Daykin, Journal Sentinel, September 30, 2013

Gary Gorman was a real estate attorney when he decided he’d rather be a developer, instead of the guy who gives developers legal advice.

Gorman & Co. was launched in 1984. Within a few years the firm was focusing on apartment buildings, aimed at lower income renters, partly financed with federal affordable housing tax credits, along with projects that use historic preservation tax credits. Today, located in the Dane County community of Oregon, the firm has 230 employees, operates dozens of properties in Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida and Arizona, and annually develops apartment buildings and other projects costing around $75 million.

The firm’s Milwaukee-area developments include the new Brew House Inn & Suites, a hotel created at the former Pabst brew house, along with Blue Ribbon Lofts, apartments developed within the brewery’s former keg house. The company also plans for another apartment development at the Pabst complex, now known as The Brewery.

Gorman recently met at the Brew House Inn to talk about his early challenges as a developer — including a partner who was a cocaine addict — how the firm grew, and its new foray into the hotel sector. Here’s an edited transcript of that interview.

Q.How did you become a developer?

A. When I got out of law school (in 1980) I was hired by a firm and promoted by that law firm as somebody who knew something about real estate syndication, which is just a fancy term for putting together a group of investors to do deals. I represented developers and syndicators for four years.

Then they offered me a partnership. And I thought, if I become a partner, then I’m going to stay. And it really wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was more intrigued by the business side. So, June of ’84, I left the law firm. I teamed up with two other guys (including a marketing expert). One guy that was older, more experienced and allegedly had more money.

Q.Did it turn out he didn’t have any money?

A. Well, you’re guessing the rest of the story. Our basic strategy was that we were going to put existing properties under contract, we were going to raise the equity capital by selling limited partnership shares, buy the properties, have somebody else manage them, and then we sell them after five years and take a piece of the profits. That was the idea.

So, within about six months of leaving the law firm, the marketing guy and I started seeing these letters coming in from collection agencies, and dunning letters from banks and other creditors to this older guy. The bottom line is he had this white powder problem that I didn’t know about. Should have done better due diligence. His frequent trips to Jamaica were not just to lay in the sun.

Q.What happened?

A. The marketing guy and I left him and formed our own little shop. And we did one deal in 1985 called Seminary Park Apartments, in Evansville, Wis. It was a small deal, 24 units. It was a historic rehab of abandoned school buildings that had previously been a private school for boys. So it had been empty for a long time.

It was immensely complicated for a small deal, and we probably made about $1.50 an hour. But that created a track record. At the end of that deal, the marketing guy said, “I can’t live like this any more. I never know if we’re going to have the deal, not have the deal. I don’t know if I’m going to have a paycheck.” (So the partner left the firm.)

Q.How did it feel to be on your own?

A. It felt a little lonely. Then tax reform started heating up and it eventually passed in 1986. That changed the tax code completely, and it eliminated a lot of the benefits of investing in real estate. But it created a new tax credit, the affordable housing tax credit. So I thought maybe I could work with that.

Q.Did you just immediately think there’s just unlimited opportunity there?

A. No, God no. I thought: Would this ever work? And who would ever invest seeking this credit? And should I go back and beg my senior partner at the law firm to take me back? All those thoughts were going through my head. And there were times when I literally ran out of money.

I worked with a law firm and an accounting firm to put together four private placements in 1987 that were raising capital for (tax credit) deals that another builder built because I didn’t have the capacity to build anything. It was a lot of work.

I got a call one day (in 1987 from Boston Financial). They had a fund that had raised money to invest in these tax credits, and would I be interested in having that fund invest as the equity investor?

Q.And you said, “Would I?”

A. I kind of held the phone away like, is this really happening? Absolutely, I wanted to.

Q.With the advent of the fund, I assume your life got a lot easier in terms of financing.

A. It did. Trying to find investors that put in $5,000 apiece a year was tough. The first institutional deal was a big break-through.

Q.At what point were you starting to do multiple projects a year?

A. I think we did two a year in ’88 and ’89. (As the firm grew, it added in-house property management and construction divisions. In 1995, it hired Tom Capp, a former Fitchburg mayor who is now Gorman & Co.’s chief operating officer.)

Q.Was adding Tom a turning point?

A. It really was. It added a level of political sophistication that, frankly, I didn’t have. He really knows how to work with city planners, mayors, elected officials, plan commissions. He knew that mentality. He had a greater level of patience with the political process.

Then we started to grow, did more projects. All of the equity was from institutional investors. Then we thought we would internalize the architectural function. We did that in ’99. At that point we sort of had the bones of an integrated development firm. That’s where we are today.

Q.What percentage of your business comes from affordable housing developments?

A. Probably 85%.

Q.How did you first get involved in doing the Brew House Inn & Suites?

A. (During a presentation to some Chinese government officials who were visiting Madison, Gorman was impressed with the interpreter, University of Wisconsin-Madison law student Ying Chan. Gorman hired him as an intern.) I was paying him, but I really didn’t know what he was doing. He was going to seminars here and there, and then he left when he graduated from law school.

He called me about six months later and said that he had been successful raising money through this EB-5 program (in which foreign citizens receive green cards in return for job-creating investments in the United States) for an immigration attorney out of the state of Washington who had never done a development deal before. I said, Ying, if you can raise money for someone who has never done anything before in the development area, it ought to be easy for you to raise money for us.

We had done Blue Ribbon Lofts, and we thought, where can we find another historic (preservation) deal that was of some size? Talking to the Zilber folks (owners of the Pabst complex), they pointed us to this building. The reason it’s a hotel rather than an apartment building is that to attract EB-5 capital you have to create jobs. A hotel and (restaurant) produce a lot more jobs than an apartment building.

Q.You’ve never done a hotel before, right?

A. No, but we have a regional manager, Laura Narduzzi, who’s got 25 years experience (in the hotel industry). I completely defer to her judgment on designing the hotel, running the hotel. I’ve stayed in a thousand of them but I don’t know anything about running them. I’m learning a little bit now, though.

Q.What have you learned?

A. The staffing level is much higher than an apartment building. The service level is huge. You have to have skilled, well-paid people on site, all the time.

Q.Are you making money?

A. We’re doing OK. Is it belching cash? No, not in the early phases. But we’re doing a lot better than our projections showed.

Q.Are you going to do other hotel investments?

A. We have a deal in Kenosha, called Heritage House. It’s a historic building. We’re about to convert that into a boutique historic hotel. I just made a presentation to the mayor of Rockford, Ill., and his staff on a project there that would be a historic hotel combined with a conference center. I made a presentation in Butte, Mont., with a concept of a similar combination of a historic hotel and a conference center. It’s opened up another area for us.

Q.But you’re going to continue to primarily be an apartment developer, right?

A. Yeah, that’s our core competency.

New apartments at Pabst win approval

The Milwaukee Plan Commission approved a proposal Monday to develop a 100-unit high-end apartment building at the former Pabst brewery.

As I reported last week, the $20 million four-story building would be at the northeast corner of W. Juneau Ave. and N. 9th St. The vacant lot is just east of the parking structure at the Pabst site, now known as the Brewery.

Gorman & Co., based in the Madison area, plans to begin construction next spring. Known as the Frederick Lofts, it would include underground and surface parking, a fitness center, clubhouse and rooftop deck.

The prospective monthly rents would range from $990 for efficiency units to $1,750 for two-bedroom units.

By Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/business/220242071.html

 

Beer flows again as remodeled Pabst brew house opens its hotel doors

Valet parking awaits outside the Brewhouse Inn & Suites on Wednesday. Pabst brewed beer in the building from 1882 to 1996, and now it has been renovated into a hotel.

Valet parking awaits outside the Brewhouse Inn & Suites on Wednesday. Pabst brewed beer in the building from 1882 to 1996, and now it has been renovated into a hotel.

By Isaac Stanley-Becker, Journal Sentinal

It was 1996 when the brew house at the Pabst Brewery Complex last manufactured its trademark Blue Ribbon beer.

On Thursday, the taps flowed once again — but as part of a much different enterprise.

The Brewhouse Inn & Suites, the latest redevelopment project in a growing trend of transforming historic city buildings into modern-day commercial establishments, played host to a grand opening Thursday celebrating the first few months of the hotel’s operation. More than 500 guests attended the event at the inn, affectionately dubbed the Pabst Hotel, and at the adjoining restaurant, Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub.

The Brewhouse Inn is a 90-room extended-stay hotel that opened its doors in April at the northwest corner of N. 10th St. and W. Juneau Ave. It occupies the former Pabst brew house and adjacent mill house, buildings that were abandoned when the Pabst Brewery Complex closed in 1996. The re-purposed buildings are just two of 25 factory buildings that were abandoned in the wake of the complex’s abrupt closing, the result of massive layoffs and pension disputes with the Brewery Workers union, Local 9.

“It was like a neutron bomb went off in the place,” said Pete Northard, the new hotel’s general manager, on a recent tour of the space. “Workers left personal belongings in their lockers, open beer bottles were strewn around.”

The brewery complex stood vacant until 2006, when Milwaukee philanthropist Joseph Zilber’s investment group, Brewery Project LLC, purchased the original 19th century buildings to form The Brewery, a complex that is home to residential, office and retail space.

The Oregon, Wis.-based Gorman & Co. developer purchased the brew house and mill house in 2011 and spent 18 months turning them into a six-floor boutique hotel that maintains many of the brewery’s original features, including spiral stairwells, arched stone doorways in the lobby and the iconic brew kettles, the bottom halves of which were cut off and removed after the factory’s closing. King Gambrinus, the unofficial patron saint of beer, looms over the atrium in a restored stained-glass window on the far end of the large, open space that features skylights.

The hotel, a LEED-certified, self-proclaimed green establishment, has been an experiment in “marrying modern amenities with an old, historic building,” said Northard, who has worked in hotel management in Milwaukee since 1995.

Without a national name, the Brewhouse Inn instead depends on its unique character to lure guests, he said. Since its opening April 25, the hotel has exceeded financial projections, Northard added. He attributed that success to city residents’ pride in their history and to the tourist attraction that comes with brewery artifacts.

Jim Haertel operates Best Place, a tavern at the complex that takes its name from the German immigrant Jacob Best Sr., who established the brewery in 1844. He said his sales had increased since the hotel’s opening. The interest in the redeveloped Pabst buildings, he said, indicates Milwaukee’s enduring reputation as the beer capital of the world.

“There’s so much in Milwaukee that harkens back to the past,” said Jeff Kollath, a curator at the Milwaukee County Historical Society. “Whether it’s our buildings or our traditions, people have a lot of pride in Milwaukee’s history, and projects that tap into that can be hugely successful.”

Because the brewery complex is a nationally registered historic landmark, Gorman & Co. received tax credits in return for maintaining original elements of the buildings, such as the wood paneling that became kitchen tables in the suites.

Anna-Marie Opgenorth, executive director at Historic Milwaukee, said she would like to see funding for those tax credits increase. She described a “value system that prioritizes using our unique architecture” as responsible for the growing trend of redevelopment projects that maintain factories dating back to the 19th century and earlier.

Two additional projects at the Pabst complex are in the works: 127 assisted living apartments in the former malt house, and an international student housing center for universities in the area.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/beer-flows-again-as-remodeled-pabst-brew-house-opens-its-hotel-doors-b9938582z1-212396711.html

 

Jackson’s pub at Brewhouse Inn opens for lunch and dinner; brunch starts in June

A month after the Brewhouse Inn & Suites opened in a reclaimed building in the Pabst brewery complex, its restaurant, Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub, is open for business, too.

Jackson’s opened late last week at 1203 N. 10th St. after extensive renovation of the Cream City brick building. The restaurant’s 24-foot ceilings, for example, are covered with tin like that of the original ceiling.

The restaurant still is ramping up: The initial menu was due to expand this week, a week after Jackson’s opened. A late-night menu, served 11 p.m. to midnight weekdays and until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, starts this week.

Father’s Day will be the restaurant’s first Sunday brunch, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The holiday brunch will be a buffet, but Sundays regularly will have an a la carte brunch menu, said Mark Zierath, who operates the restaurant with his brother, Dan. They also own Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub in Wauwatosa.

The restaurant at the Brewhouse is open daily at 11 a.m. It has a pub menu, with appetizers ($4.99 to $11.99) like fried cheese curds, chicken wings and jalapeño poppers with chile marmalade; salads such as Cobb ($9.99) with jalapeno and bacon; and sandwiches and wraps ($8.99 and $9.99), including a burger and a chicken sandwich on focaccia.
The bar has about a dozen taps, including some state craft beers (as well as Pabst, naturally) and about four dozen brews by the bottle.

Jackson’s has a beer garden seating around 100; musicians will play from 7 to 10 p.m. Fridays on the patio, starting this Friday.

To contact: (414) 276-7271.

Brew House Inn preps for opening at former Pabst complex

Brew House Inn preps for opening at former Pabst complex

Mike De Sisti

The Brew House Inn & Suites, at W. Juneau Ave. and N. 10th St., is the second extended-stay hotel in downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee’s hotel growth continues with extended-stay option

By Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel

March 2, 2013

After downtown Milwaukee’s former Pabst Brewery closed in 1996, the bottom portions of its big copper brewing kettles were removed – likely sold as scrap.

But what remains of the kettles has been cleaned and polished, and is now part of the lobby and atrium décor at the new Brew House Inn & Suites, a 90-room hotel created within the former Pabst brew house and adjacent mill house. The extended-stay hotel opens April 25, and its restaurant, Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub, is to open May 16.

Along with the six brewing kettles, the hotel’s features include the atrium’s restored stained glass window featuring King Gambrinus, the unofficial patron saint of beer; stone and brick arched doorways in the lobby; a spiral staircase connecting the lobby to the second-floor atrium; guest rooms with exposed brick; and tables and other furniture in guest rooms made from the brew house’s old floor joists.

The Brew House Inn has strong advanced bookings from both business and leisure travelers, including wedding parties, said Laura Narduzzi, regional manager at Oregon, Wis.-based Gorman & Co., the hotel’s devel oper.

“There’s a lot of excitement about this building,” Narduzzi said during a recent tour.

The six-story hotel has five two-bedroom rooms, some with rooftop terraces offering views of downtown’s skyline. The remaining rooms are divided roughly 50-50 between studio rooms and one-bedroom rooms. All rooms include kitchens.

The Brew House Inn will include a fitness center and two small meeting rooms, and guests will park at the nearby parking structure in the center of The Brewery, the 20-acre redevelopment of the former Pabst complex.

Hotel resurgence

The hotel, at the northwest corner of W. Juneau Ave. and N. 10th St., is part of a surge in new downtown hotel development, including the 128-room Hilton Garden Inn, which opened in November; the 200-room Marriott, opening this fall, and the recent announcement that Kimpton Hotels will open a 158-room hotel in summer 2015.

The Brew House Inn will be one of only two extended-stay hotels in downtown Milwaukee. That will help it better compete with other downtown hotels with well-known brand names that are tied to national reservation systems, Narduzzi said.

The building’s history also will help attract guests, she said.

Downtown’s other extended stay hotel, Residence Inn by Marriott, has a strong business, and Brew House Inn will have to do a good job of marketing itself, said Greg Hanis, who operates Hospitality Marketers International Inc., based in New Berlin.

The Brew House Inn’s lack of a national brand name will affect the hotel’s competition for guests who aren’t seeking extended stays, he said.

“Its location will be unique,” Hanis said, “but its service to the guest and overall product it offers will have to also be exceptional to overcome the lack of brand to position it.”

Foreign financing

Gorman financed the hotel through the EB-5 program. That program allows foreign citizens to obtain U.S. residency visas by investing in job-creating projects. The two-year visa can be converted into a green card, which provides permanent U.S. residency privileges for the investor, the investor’s spouse and children.

Opponents of the program say it distorts the market by providing the green cards as an investment incentive.

The hotel will be the second of three developments Gorman has at The Brewery.

Gorman operates Blue Ribbon Lofts, a 95-unit apartment building, and plans to begin construction this spring on a 60,000-square-foot office building just west of the Brew House Inn.

The Brewery also is home to the newly opened Brewery Point senior apartments, with 48 units; the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health; office buildings; Cardinal Stritch University’s College of Education and Leadership; and Best Place, which includes the restored Blue Ribbon Hall and tavern.

Also, New York-based White stone Realty Capital LLC is raising $37 million to convert the former malt house and grain warehouse into 127 assisted living apartments.

The hotel’s opening is welcomed by Jim Haertel, who operates Best Place. He anticipates that additional business generated by the Brew House Inn and other new developments will allow him to keep the tavern open beyond its current Thursday through Sunday schedule.

“I think the more things we have going on at The Brewery, the more people will come, and park and visit all the establishments here,” Haertel said.

A mid-May opening is expected for Jackson’s Blue Ribbon at the Brewhouse Inn

The restaurant opening in spring at the new Brewhouse Inn & Suites downtown will go for a neighborhood feel, the operator says.

Mark Zierath, who will run Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub at 1203 N. 10th St. with his brother, Dan, said the restaurant is targeted to open May 16. The extended-stay hotel is due to open April 25 in the former Pabst Brewing Co. complex.

The restaurant goes by the same name as the brothers’ pub at 11302 W. Blue Mound Road in Wauwatosa, and Mark Zierath said they want to create the same neighborhood vibe at the Brewhouse Inn location.

The downtown location will have some of the same casual pub fare on the menu but also will have steak, seafood and pasta, as well as some traditional German dishes to reflect its location and the city’s heritage.

In summer, Jackson’s will have a patio and beer garden that seat 85. It also will have banquet space for events; a wedding already is booked for September, Zierath said.

Jackson’s will have a shuttle to take its guests to event venues downtown, such as the BMO Harris Bradley Center seven blocks away.

The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday and starting at 10 a.m. Sundays for brunch. It also will handle room service for the hotel.

The Zierath brothers also own Ella’s Brookfield Barstaurant, formerly Sluggo’s, at N. 127th St. and W. Burleigh Road.