Wisconsin

How Milwaukee’s Northside Housing Initiative Is Keeping the Neighborhood Affordable

 

How do you revitalize a neighborhood that’s faced years of vacancy and disinvestment without displacing the people who call it home? It’s a problem that Milwaukee’s Northside Housing Initiative has been tackling for the last eight years.

1914 home restorationA 1914 home was restored in 2013.

The Northside Housing Initiative (NHI), a project of national developer Gorman & Company, is in the business of restoring tax foreclosed houses. Formerly a booming neighborhood for industrial workers, the north side has seen high rates of vacancy in recent years, following the national housing crisis and the Great Recession. As part of the still-ongoing initiative, the city of Milwaukee acquires foreclosed houses for $1 and donates them to the NHI, which carefully refurbishes them over the course of about six months. Not all of the houses are historic, but roughly 20 percent date from 1910 to 1925, and their styles range from bungalows to Queen Anne to Victorian Revival.

“You do find some that are really in pretty good shape, they still have some pretty good bones to them,” says Marc Ott, lead architect for the Wisconsin market at Gorman, of the historic homes refurbished as part of the initiative. “And then of course you find some that are in the far, complete opposite end, really not habitable at all.”

He says that making sure that the heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems are safe and up to code takes top priority in the rehab projects. Gorman & Company has completed eight phases of the initiative thus far, with a ninth slated for the spring of 2017. They’ve refurbished over 300 structures, including single-family homes and duplexes, to date, taking advantage of low-income tax credits to help finance the work.

Ott says that keeping the historic fabric of the neighborhood intact is also something that the NHI strives for. “We do take time and research the whole block and try to make sure it [the house] fits in and the color scheme is appropriate and etcetera,” he says.

One of the project’s essential components is a workforce development program, in partnership with the Northcott Neighborhood House, a local nonprofit that works with low-income or out-of-work community members. Northcott keeps a list of re-entry candidates who have committed felonies and are trying to get back on their feet post-incarceration, and works with NHI to train interested individuals in the areas of carpentry, electrical, HVAC, or plumbing, as well as providing them with a core curriculum at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Ted Matkom, Wisconsin Market President at Gorman & Company, explains that at the end of their training, people in the program have an opportunity to pursue an apprenticeship in their field of choice.

1910 home before

A duplex built in 1910 gets restored in 2012.

1910 home after

“Our goal is to have them pass the competency test to get into an apprenticeship in those trades,” he says. “Once they pass that, with our credit from the training program, they can get an apprenticeship job with a local union.”

The north side of Milwaukee has seen a shift in recent years due to the new Century City project, a formerly vacant A.O. Smith car parts factory that the city is in the process of transforming into an office park, at an estimated cost of around $40 million. While the new development should be economically beneficial for the area in theory, the city doubled down on its commitment to keeping longtime residents from being pushed out of the neighborhood by rising housing costs by partnering with the Northside Housing Initiative to rehab homes in direct proximity to Century City. It’s part of a larger plan to keep the North Side affordable for those whose families, in some cases, have called it home for generations.

“You can really see that this was probably the quintessential working neighborhood back in the ‘20s and ‘30s and ‘40s, with all the industry that was happening in Milwaukee,” Ott says. “Unfortunately, through the years and economics and whatnot, they’ve just transitioned, and people weren’t able to keep them up.”

For residents like Willie Bounds, who has called Milwaukee home his whole life, the house he’s renting through the Northside Housing Initiative provides more than enough room for him and his daughter. “I’ve never had a house with a basement before,” he says, laughing. “I really love the extra space.” He pays $950 a month for a four-bedroom, four-bathroom house.

“It really gives a lot of pride to the neighborhood,” Ott says of the project’s benefits. “It’s one thing to give someone housing. If you can give someone good quality housing that they’re proud to bring people back to—it’s been very fulfilling to see, as we work through these nine phases, how we evolve, how the community’s kind of taken hold of it, been proud of it.”

Creative reuse turns half of former Catholic seminary in Madison into higher-end apartments

Written by Doug Erickson, Wisconsin State Journal

holy name seminary

Several years ago, leaders of the Madison Catholic Diocese realized they had a big challenge on their hands with the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, a former seminary and home to the diocesan headquarters.

The majestic but aging building on the city’s Far West Side had become costly to maintain, with only about one-third of it being used on a regular basis.

The diocese hired a developer, and today, about half of the building has been converted to private-market apartments, adding millions of dollars to the city’s tax base. The $21 million project celebrated its grand opening in August, and all 53 apartments are now occupied, ahead of expectations.

“There’s more life to the building now — more people, more activity,” said Monsignor James Bartylla, the diocese’s second-ranking official, adding that the project keeps the “legacy property” in the diocese while preserving much of its spiritual and cultural identity.

The building at 702 S. High Point Road, a few blocks south of the Beltline, opened in 1964 as Holy Name Seminary, a high school for boys interested in possibly becoming priests. The seminary closed in 1995.

The building was rechristened in 1997 as the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, honoring the founding bishop of the diocese. Its new name, Holy Name Heights, brings the site back full circle.

For apartment dwellers, it offers one of the more unusual residential settings in the city.

The diocesan headquarters remain, imbuing the building with a sense of the sacred. Tenants have 24-hour access to the building’s centerpiece, an on-site chapel with soaring stained glass windows and a 360-piece mosaic that rises three stories behind the altar. Mass is celebrated daily during the week.

For a more secular experience, there’s a full-size gym, newly restored to its retro glory. The 72-acre site offers 2.5 miles of walking paths, a running track, a baseball diamond and fields for football and soccer.

Other amenities include two interior courtyards with arched walkways, a theater room with a 100-inch screen, and a lounge with a balcony offering panoramic views of the city and state Capitol.

“It just seems so special here,” said tenant Christina Busse, 33, a stay-at-home mom who lives in a two-bedroom apartment with her husband, Phillip, 35, and their 21-month-old son, Cephas.

Broad appeal

While anyone can live at the site, diocesan officials thought the apartments might attract mostly empty nesters and Catholics. The appeal has been broader.

Busse, who is Lutheran, said she enjoys praying in the chapel and has found her neighbors to be a friendly bunch that ranges in age from young professionals to retirees. Many seem eager to make personal connections, she said.

“People seem to want relationships here,” she said.

The site appealed to the couple for its serenity, its religious aspects, and its amenities, especially the acres of outdoor space their son can explore as he grows. Their apartment is about a 10-minute drive from Epic Systems Corp., where Phillip Busse, 34, works in technical support services. Christina Busse estimated that nearly a dozen other tenants also work at the electronic medical records giant.

Among the couple’s neighbors are Paul and Kate Stauffacher, the kind of tenants diocesan officials knew would be especially drawn to the property. Retirees in their 70s, they are devout Catholics whose two sons graduated from the former seminary.

The connection for Paul Stauffacher goes even deeper. He taught and coached at the seminary early on, then went on to serve as its principal from 1978-87. His apartment is the seminary’s former weight and equipment room where he spent so much time as a coach.

“This just struck us when we saw it,” Stauffacher said. “There is a certain element of nostalgia, but it goes beyond that. We’re daily Mass attendees, so the chapel is very convenient. We love to get out and exercise on the grounds, and our grandchildren love the gym.”

For some, there’s the added appeal of occasionally bumping into Madison Bishop Robert Morlino, who recently moved into one of the new apartments. He had been living for more than a decade in the rectory at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, three blocks off the Capitol Square.

‘Uncommon’ project

The diocese, which continues to own the property, hired Gorman & Co. to redevelop the site. The company, based just south of Madison, has stayed on as the on-site manager for the apartments.

Gorman & Co. specializes in adaptive reuses of landmark buildings and has had a long association with the diocese. It successfully nominated the former seminary as a historic landmark. The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The designation allowed the company to access $5.8 million in historic tax credits — a critical piece of the financing — and also protects the building’s architectural legacy, said CEO Gary Gorman, a lifelong Catholic who grew up in the Madison area and has served as board president of Catholic Charities Madison. The project was “uncommon” and close to his heart, Gorman said.

“It did something really positive for a diocese that I’ve been a member of for 60 years,” he said. “I’m proud of both the physical and financial results, and in particular the fact that a number of people now get to call this beautiful building their home.”

The city has determined that 46.63 percent of the building is now taxable, with the rest remaining tax-exempt due to its religious use, said Scott West, a city commercial property appraiser. The assessed value of the taxable portion is currently set at $3.43 million by the city, but that number reflects only partial completion of the project, West said. The full assessment, out this April, likely will be around $5.1 million, he said.

The diocese’s 2016 tax bill for the site is $77,532. That figure is based on only the partial assessment.

The project’s total costs of $21 million are so much higher than the city assessed value because the total costs reflect work done on the entire site, not just the part turned into apartments, said Ted Matkom, president of the Wisconsin market for Gorman & Co. The project also addressed major maintenance issues on the aging building such as roofing and plumbing, he said.

One-bedroom apartments rent for $955 to $1,285 per month, while two-bedroom units go for $1,369 to $1,970. That’s probably a little less than top-of-the-line luxury units in Madison, but in the middle to upper range, said Rick Mason, property manager.

Bartylla said the project could help other dioceses think creatively about unused or vacant properties.

“I think we’ve shown that you don’t have to sell church property when it’s underutilized,” he said. “There might be an opportunity to continue ownership while finding something that works for both the diocese and the community.”

“It did something really positive for a diocese that I’ve been a member of for 60 years. I’m proud of both the physical and financial results, and in particular the fact that a number of people now get to call this beautiful building their home.” Gary Gorman, CEO of Gorman & Co., which redeveloped the former Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center

FREDERICK LOFTS REPRESENTS “TIPPING POINT” FOR CITY

At the dedication of 100-unit market-rate apartment building at the former Pabst Brewery, mayor hopeful for continued growth of downtown housing.

By Michael Horne, Urban Milwaukee, August 13th, 2015

MILWAUKEE - There was a time that when you referred to a city’s “Tipping Point,” you were talking about a catalytic event that led to a community’s decline. Today, the phrase, as applied to the City of Milwaukee, has a different connotation, says Mayor Tom Barrett.

“Milwaukee is at a tipping point,” he told a group of 50 people gathered Wednesday at the dedication of the Frederick Lofts, 840 W. Juneau Ave. “Not a negative tipping point, but a positive tipping point.”

The 100-unit apartment building was developed by Gorman & Company, Inc. at the east end of the former Pabst Brewery.

Prior to the purchase of the long-vacant brewery site by the Zilber Group, “there was no reason to come here,” the mayor said. In fact, the place was so desolate that “even the bad guys wouldn’t come here,” he added.

But today, “what is happening literally before our eyes are young people and the young at heart coming downtown. It’s a national phenomenon,” the mayor said. “Downtown is 3.6% of the landmass and 18% of the tax base” of the city, he said.

As if on cue, the sidewalks outside began to fill with workers from downtown office buildings as they left work, heading to their homes, some in The Brewery neighborhood itself. Gorman & Company developed the adjacent Blue Ribbon Lofts apartment building out of the former Pabst Keg House. In addition, Gorman developed the Brewhouse Inn & Suites one block west. The new development is immediately south of the Brewery Point Apartments, a senior living community.

Ald. Bob Bauman, whose 4th district represents that 18% of the city’s tax base, and is the focus of its tipping point, joked that “groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings are getting routine.”

Ted Matkom, the Wisconsin Market President for Gorman, said the site “was the poster child for blight in Milwaukee.” He recounted the failed attempt to turn the area into an entertainment district that would have required the demolition of many buildings. Such entertainment districts did not survive the great recession, he said. After that effort failed, Joe Zilber declared that the Pabst site “was going to be my legacy.”

Things were tough at first, Matkom said. Some 30 restaurateurs turned down a chance to open what is now Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub at the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, including what he called “all the big players.” Today, Jackson’s, run by Mark Zierath, who was in the audience (and who catered the event) “is killing it!” Matkom said. The Blue Ribbon Lofts, dating to 2008, are “100% occupied,” he said. The 90-room hotel has some of the top rates in the city,” and hopes are high for the Frederick Lofts.

As Bauman noted, the location is a success despite being in sight of the County Jail and a state secure detention facility.

John Kersey, the Zilber Group Vice President said “We would not have imagined market-rate housing when we started this thing.”

Today, market rate at the Frederick Lofts starts at $1,350 for studios and $1,790 for a two bedroom unit.

Three models were on display, and I toured them with Gary Gorman, the president of the firm that developed and owns the property. This is 100% new construction, with high-end features like granite countertops and floor-to-ceiling windows. A live-work unit of 696 square feet has a sliding partition that separates the work unit, accessible from the street, from the live unit. For those eager go-getters who like to bound out of the bedroom and straight into the kitchen for a hearty breakfast, there is no door between the two rooms to slow things down.

Gorman noted the floors of the units, which are uniform throughout, and consist of a wood-grain pattern and texture. The material is described in the sales material as “luxury hard surface plank in natural wood,” but it is a vinyl type product. Gorman says from experience, he has to replace carpets every three years, and this material should be more durable. I would rather it express its inner vinylness rather than masquerade as wood, and I found the texture to be unnecessary.

Among the attendees was Jim Haertel, who owns Best Place across the street. He now has 35 employees. His wife Nancy says their facility is nearly completely booked for 2016, including for the wedding of Urban Milwaukee CEO Jeramey Jannene and Alison Peterson and is now taking reservations for 2017. One of the couple’s favorite weddings of 2015 was that of Ald. Nik Kovac and Grace Fuhr in July, where guests arrived by bicycle. Dan McCarthy, who was instrumental in the development of the project, (and was on the wrong side of the Pabst City plan) was there as was banker Jon Mulcahy. Also in attendance was Joy Smith, a resident of the Blue Ribbon Lofts who writes a neighborhood newsletter.

The building has a nice rooftop deck with a kitchenette, and a number of people were gathered there during the event. The building has a partial green roof of sedum that looks in fine shape for a recent installation. The bioswales outside seem to have done their work during recent heavy downpours, as evidenced by the line of silt seen on some of the plants there.

The final word on the tipping point came from the mayor, who said “my wife wants to move downtown!” Barrett says that may happen soon, once the kids are out of the house.

The Brewery’s 100-Unit Frederick Lofts

By , UrbanMilwaukee.com, May 8th, 2015

Not so many years ago, the Pabst Brewing Complex was a ghost town at all hours of the day. The abandoned brewery, which abruptly closed its doors in 1997, served as a highly visible reminder of Milwaukee’s industrial past, looming over Interstate 43 with unused smokestacks and silos. Then in 2006, Joseph Zilber stepped in to buy the complex, rebranding it “The Brewery” and set out to build an entire neighborhood within it.

Gorman & Company has been an important partner of Zilber Ltd in the creation of The Brewery. The Oregon, Wisconsin-based firm has developed the 90-room Brewhouse Inn & Suites hotel in the former brewhouse building and the 95-unit Blue Ribbon Lofts apartments in the former keg house. With many of the historic structures renovated (or in the process of being so), Gorman has now started developing new buildings in the area.

Gorman’s 100-unit Frederick Lofts apartment building is scheduled to open this summer at the northeast corner of W. Juneau Ave. and N. 9th St. The privately-financed project will feature exclusively market-rate apartments. The project is named after Pabst namesake Captain Frederick Pabst. From 1875 to 1892 Pabst lived in a home on the site. Prior to that (and before mechanical refrigeration) tunnels were installed underneath the site to keep beer cold; construction crews found those tunnels on accident last April.

 

This residential project will take advantage of the recently rebuilt W. Juneau Ave., which was converted from a street designed for beer delivery trucks to a more human-scaled boulevard like Broadway in the Historic Third Ward.

Residents of the project will be able to park in an underground parking facility or in a surface lot behind the L-shaped building.

Frederick Lofts residents might soon find themselves with new neighbors as the new owners of the Milwaukee Bucks are seeking to build their own neighborhood just east of the The Brewery in the Park East corridor.

 

Celebrating continuity and new beginnings with redevelopment project

Celebrating continuity and new beginnings with redevelopment project, Madison Catholic Herald, May 1, 2015

Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff

Friday, May. 01, 2015 — 3:28 PM

It’s time to celebrate both continuity and new beginnings, said Bishop Robert C. Morlino as he presided at a Mass and groundbreaking ceremonies for the redevelopment of the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center (BOC) on May 1.

After Holy Name Seminary closed in 1995, the building was renovated as a diocesan center and renamed the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center in 1998. The redevelopment of the BOC will maintain diocesan offices, the center’s chapel, and other historic features while adding a vibrant new residential community. Gorman & Company has been engaged by the Diocese of Madison to serve as the developer of the $21 million project and will provide architectural and design services for the redevelopment.

Appropriately, the Mass and groundbreaking ceremonies were held on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. “We’re doing quite a bit of work here,” said Bishop Morlino, who noted that construction work at the BOC began about a month ago. “We’re doing quite well in the hopes that we will see the fruits of this work in due time.”

Caring about vocations

Following the Mass, Bishop Morlino unveiled and blessed a recently uncovered diocesan coat of arms on the lobby floor, which dates back to when the building was Holy Name Seminary.  Bishop  Morlino observed that Holy Name Seminary was a sign that the priests and people of the diocese cared about vocations. Unveiling the diocesan crest, he said, “will be a reminder of the wonderful history of the diocese and all the good work of Holy Name Seminary.”

The bishop acknowledged that while times change, “We care every bit as much for vocations today. Through many prayers, we have 33 seminarians and we’re doing well in our fund-raising efforts to support them.”

New Life for a Madison Icon: A Celebratory Mass with Bishop Robert C. Morlino marks the groundbreaking ceremonies for the redevelopment of the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center

Gorman DOM Media Release 5-1-2015

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday, May 01, 2015

For More Information:

Susanne Voeltz, for Gorman & Company, Inc.
(608) 284-0848
Brent King, Diocese of Madison
(608) 821-3033
Brent.king@straphael.org

New Life for a Madison Icon:

A Celebratory Mass with Bishop Robert C. Morlino marks groundbreaking ceremonies for the redevelopment of the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center

Historic renovation preserves on site chapel, maintains Diocesan offices and adds a vibrant new residential community

Madison, WI—May 1, 2015—Bishop Robert C. Morlino celebrated Mass for the feast of St. Joseph the Worker today, marking groundbreaking ceremonies for the redevelopment of the Bishop O’Connor Pastoral Center (BOC). Following the mass, Bishop Morlino, flanked by numerous priests of the diocese, unveiled and blessed a recently uncovered diocesan coat of arms, that embellishes the lobby floor of the BOC and dates from its days as Holy Name Seminary.

The former Holy Name Seminary, a neo-Colonial landmark that welcomed its first students in 1964, has served as the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center since the seminary was closed in 1995. The redevelopment plan for the BOC – which preserves its architectural and sacred legacy and ensures strategic stewardship for the 72.6 acre property – was grounded in years of due diligence and study on the part of diocesan councils, consultors, and leadership to determine the best possible outcome for the future of the aging and underutilized former seminary.

Gorman & Company has been engaged by the diocese to serve as the developer of the $21 million project and will provide architectural and design services for the redevelopment. Upon completion of the apartment component of the project in 2016, Gorman & Company will also manage the property. First Business Bank of Madison, WI is providing the financing for the milestone redevelopment.

In anticipation of today’s event, Bishop Morlino expressed his gratitude to all those who are making this project possible, saying “It is a win-win scenario, where the diocese not only retains this historic building, keeping our presence in this most visible sign of the diocese in the community, and preserving the legacy of Holy Name Seminary, but also where new life is breathed onto the campus, which has served the local Church so well. We are so grateful for the excellent cooperation of Gary Gorman and his expert and visionary team.”

To preserve its architectural integrity, the iconic landmark, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be renovated as a “certified historic rehabilitation” in compliance with historic preservation guidelines prescribed by the National Park Service. Whenever possible, the BOC’s significant historic and architectural elements will be preserved, refurbished and sensitively integrated into the renovation design.

Key components of the BOC renovation will be incorporating 53 new apartment homes, updating office space for the diocese, Catholic Charities, and affiliated Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Herald and Catholic Radio, and upgrading office and kitchen facilities for Blue Plate Catering. The project will also allow Catholic Charities of Madison to bring more of their agents under one roof.

The on-site Cletus O’Donnell Holy Name Chapel will be maintained and preserved and will continue to offer daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration during and after the BOC renovation. The chapel interior   is noted for its 360-piece mosaic, assembled in Germany, that rises three-stories behind the altar, and for its dramatic stained glass windows that were crafted in a palette of blues and pastels by the renowned Conrad Schmitt Studios.

The new residential community at the BOC, to be known as Holy Name Heights, will be comprised of 53 one and two-bedroom apartment homes that will combine contemporary living with a historic setting for a special sense of place. Units will be appointed with granite kitchen countertops and islands, stainless steel appliances, luxe plank flooring throughout, efficient cooling and heating systems, and a high speed Wi-Fi network. A guest suite will be available to rent by residents for visiting family and friends. Each unit will have an enclosed, heated parking stall and availability for bike storage as well.

Residents will have access to a host of amenities that are unique to the architectural landmark, including two interior courtyards with cloistered, arched walkways and a full size gymnasium-prime for pick-up basketball games. A wine lounge with a fireplace, stylish seating and a covered balcony offering panoramic views of the city and the Capitol, a theater room, a dance movement studio and fitness center are planned as well. The richly landscaped grounds of the BOC also feature 2.5 miles of walking trails for leisurely strolls or quick sprints.

To recognize and celebrate the BOC’s historic and cultural significance, Gorman & Company will create a dedicated space for a “History Lounge” on the lower level of the building below the chapel. In partnership with the diocese, Gorman & Company will curate a display of memorabilia and photographs chronicling the history of Holy Name Seminary. On site office tenants, residents, and visitors will have a chance to view the collection and learn about the BOC’s spiritual legacy in a warm and inviting setting.

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Gorman teams up with Northcott to rebuild depressed Milwaukee Neighborhood

Click on the link below to read the article on Gorman’s Northside Neighborhoods as published on the Wheda Transform Milwaukee website:

Gorman teams up with Northcott to rebuild depressed Milwaukee neighborhood, Wheda Transform Milwaukee website, 2-2015