Milwaukee

NEW MIXED-USE LIBRARY TO HELP REINVIGORATE MITCHELL ST.

By Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, September 2, 2015

Nancy Bush (right) helps Mixtli Murillo, 6, with a snack at an open house for people to learn about a new Milwaukee Public Library branch that will open in the historic Hills building at S. 9th St. and W. Historic Mitchell St.

MILWAUKEE – Right now, it’s just open space on the first floor of the gracious Hills building in the heart of a historic neighborhood on Milwaukee’s near south side. But by late 2016 or early 2017, there will be books, computers and furnishings in a 21st-century library that will be designed to serve as an educational and neighborhood anchor at 906-910 W. Historic Mitchell St.

On Wednesday, the public was invited to an open house to tour the site and offer suggestions for the future home of the Milwaukee Public Library branch. When completed, the Mitchell St. facility will replace the near half-century-old branch at 1432 W. Forest Home Ave.The new library is part of a trend in Milwaukee of replacing old brancheswith new ones that are part of mixed-use developments.

In mixed-use development, retail shopping is often placed on the first floor with housing on the upper floors. The city has tweaked the model by putting libraries at street level with housing above. The Mitchell St. library will be topped by 57 market-rate apartments.

“We are on the leading edge nationally of using a mixed-use model for library development,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

The model — already used at the East Branch and Villard Square — enables the city to get more bang for its buck. By 2020, six Milwaukee libraries will be mixed-use facilities.

“We are really proud of the fact that at a time when resources are strapped we continue to invest in the libraries,” Barrett said.

Gorman Co. is the developer of the $10.4 million project, which includes $4.4 million in city funding for the library. The firm is applying for state and federal historic tax credits. The apartments will be designed by Quorum. Architectural firm HGA will design the new 16,000-square-foot library. There will be an attempt to blend the old with the new.

The building, constructed in 1919 as the Hills Department Store, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It retains architectural flourishes, including decorative features at the top of columns, historic stair railings and a mezzanine.

“Those are things you just can’t duplicate in a new building,” said Jane Dedering, associate vice president of HGA. Dedering said modern libraries need flexible spaces to cater to multiple uses and patrons who range from toddlers to seniors.

“Daylight is huge,” she said. “And really connecting with the community is important so it doesn’t feel generic.”

Sam McGovern-Rowen, Milwaukee’s library construction project manager, said people constantly ask “what do we need libraries for? Part of the thing we need them for is they’re town halls of the neighborhood, a gathering place, a community center.”

The Mitchell St. site sits nearby the St. Anthony School of Milwaukee and is within walking distance of South Division High School. The library will serve one of the youngest and most diverse communities in the city.

“We want the kids in this city to be using our libraries both in the summer and after school,” Barrett said.

Paula Kiely, director of the Milwaukee Public Library, said the Mitchell St. facility is “going to be a real jewel.”

Laura Gutierrez, vice president of academic affairs at St. Anthony School, said that as an educator “it’s phenomenal” to have the library coming to the new location.

“I want every resource to prepare the students academically, and resources for the workforce,” she said.

Julio Maldonado, of the Cesar Chavez Business Improvement District, said he was eager to see the library serve as a community space for everything from children doing their homework to providing an incubator for entrepreneurs.

Adam Carr, an artist who collaborated on a “Listening to Mitchell” project, said “people want something alive again” in the space.

“Mitchell Street is where the south side happened,” he said.

And a library, Carr said, is a place that can lead Mitchell St. into a new era.

Gorman & Company Begins 7th Phase of Milwaukee Northside Housing Initiative

Tax Credit Advisor, January 2015

In early October Gorman & Company broke ground in Milwaukee on the 7th phase of its nationally-acclaimed scattered site, single family home redevelopment.

Gorman & Company’s Northside Housing Initiative is a partnership with the City of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). Its goal is to resuscitate challenged neighborhoods that have been devastated by the foreclosure crisis. Foreclosed, boarded-up properties are rehabbed into high-quality rental housing. In addition, newly constructed homes are built on vacant lots that residents consider the “broken teeth” of their neighborhood.

This innovated housing initiative also focuses on training  chronically unemployed people from the affected zip codes. The City of Milwaukee offers critical support for the project by assembling the individual properties and contributing them to the initiative.

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

Old Pabst Brewery gets new life as beer lover’s dream hotel

By Nate Kuester, Channel 58, Milwaukee, WI
December 16, 2013

MILWAUKEE — In 1996, the pabst brewing complex shut down. Suddenly ending production of one of the most iconic American beers at the facility. Now a unique hotel experience awaits the beer enthusiast.

“[The hotel is] Housed in the former Pabst brewery building,” said Brewhouse Inn & Suites general manager Peter Northard.

That’s where you’ll find the Brewhouse Inn and Suites, in the heart of Milwaukee. The brewery facility is now home to a truly unique hotel experience that celebrates the beer-crafting history.

“The building was actually built in 1882,” said Northard. “So this operated from 1882 to 1996 as the building in the Pabst complex of Milwaukee, that is actually where they brewed the beer.”

The amount of restoration and work to preserve the original life of the building is obvious from the amazing stained glass window–depicting King Gambrinus, to the brewing equipment still present, to the overall feel right from the moment you walk throught the front door.

“We actually took 1,530 bottles of beer, that our construction crew graciously agreed to empty for us, [and] we cut the bottoms off of them,” said Northard. “And we put those on the fromt of the front desk. So that way, it looks very much like a bar with 1,530 bottoms of beer bottles.”

Elements from the brewery appear even in the most unlikely of places.

“We basically took this old growth lumber, that was used for beams, and we repurposed it to all the kitchen tables in the guest rooms as well as the tables in our Jackson’s Blue Ribbon pub,” said Northard.

Of course, if you’re going to re-purpose the old Pabst brewery, then you have to have your priorities straight as to what you are going to include. And Northard told CBS 58 there wes no question about i where the priority stood.

“A bar was number one,”he said.” “It was essential. It had to be. You cannot reopen the Pabst brewhouse without a bar, serving Pabst Blue Ribbon.”

The work to preserve the former glory of the facilty, in its new incarnation, carries particular appeal for those who knew the brewery in it’s past life. That’s apparent when you visit Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub, located in an area that was once referred to as the ‘blue room.’

“We have Pabst workers, former Pabst workers come in here all the time,” said Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub co-owner Mark Zierath. “Actually current workers as well. And they’re all just completely blown away by the space. … It’s great to hear the history of these buildings, and how they once produced the great beer here.”

“To hear the stories that they tell about their times in the brewhouse, and just to see in their eyes how they’re kind of reliving a lot of the past, has just been a really great thing to witness,” said Northard.

“Everyone knew someone who worked at Pabst, or had a relative that worked at Pabst, and that’s the beer I drank when I came of age,” said Zierath.

The unique hotel, owned by Wisconin’s Gorman & Company, Inc., recently won a national ‘Timmy’ award — acknowledging their work for rehabilitating the historic buildings at the pabst complex. you can find out more information about the brewhouse inn & suites here.