Milwaukee

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.

 

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

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.

Forest Home Library Replacement Decided, Mill Road Deferred

By Michael Horne, Urban Milwaukee, Dec 18, 2014

The Forest Home branch of the Milwaukee Public Library would move to a historic building, according to a vote by the Board of Trustees of the Milwaukee Public Library on Wednesday, December 17th.

The winning proposal by Gorman & Co / Mitchell Investment Properties VJS Construction calls for replacing the Forest Home branch library with a location in the historic Hill building at 930 W. Mitchell St.

The alternative plan under consideration, advanced by Cardinal Capital Group / Journey House, called for new construction on S. Cesar Chavez Drive. That proposal drew considerable community support at a public hearing held by the library’s Building Committee at the Forest Home Library on Tuesday, December 2nd.

However, it had many more moving parts than the relatively straightforward Mitchell Street proposal.

The Cardinal Capital / Journey House plan called for the demolition of an existing dental office building on the busy shopping street and replacing it with the library and coffee shop at the street level. In addition, it called for the development of subsidized housing above as well as rather inexplicit investments in properties in the immediate neighborhood. The proposal had the support of Ald. Jose Perez, whose district encompasses both of the proposed locations.

The Gorman proposal offered a nearly move-in-ready building, market rate apartments, and Historic Tax Credits.

The Gorman plan, too, has a number of parts, but they are well greased. The Historic Tax Credit program has proven to be a most effective lubricant when you’re fracking for capital.

But you need a historic building first to mine this golden egg, and a demolished Dental Associates clinic would not fit the bill.

The building committee, when it earlier considered the proposals, did not meet a resolution of the matter, and it came before the full board, although both proposals had been declared dead by some reports.

The 12 member library board is chaired by John Gurda, who took time after the meeting (writing from the library) to share these comments with Urban Milwaukee readers about the board’s decision:

“… We approved Gorman & Co’s. proposal to replace the Forest Home branch with a new library on the first floor of the Hill Building and market-rate apartments above. Simply put, there’s a lot to like about the project. The Hill Building has great bones, and it’s on the National Register, with ample dedicated parking and a prominent location on Mitchell Street, the South Side’s downtown since the late 1800s. The building is also literally across the street from one of the largest parochial grade schools (St. Anthony’s) in the country, and the use of historic preservation tax credits will enable us to get more library for our money. When you put it all together, this is going to be a genuinely catalytic project that will bring Third Ward-caliber energy to the heart of the South Side.”

Brooke VandeBerg, the Communications and Marketing Director for the library, said the board also made these conclusions about the Gorman proposal:

The Gorman project:

•​Has now clearly defined the second use for the development with market rate housing, which is complementary to a library and a catalytic project for the area.

•​Is proposed for a location (930 W. Mitchell St.) that is central to the service area, in a prominent business district and allows for parking when using the facility

•The project can move expeditiously and be completed within a short time frame. The library and apartments can be developed simultaneously; and,

•The developer has a secure funding strategy and will pursue Historic Tax Credits for the entire project. ​

 

The board made the right decision, in my opinion. The Journey House proposal helped put the urgency of redevelopment of S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. in the forefront, as has the Urban Placemaking initiatives of Newaukee, including an artist-in-residence for the street. But the project it proposed for the site seemed to have too many variables, imponderables and contingent pieces.

But put together, they demonstrate the need for investment in that commercial corridor. Perhaps just not in a project anchored by a library branch.

The Gorman proposal will provide an anchor for the Mitchell Street commercial district, which, at its heyday, was as vital as any in the nation.

The library board also expressed guarded interest in a proposal for the redevelopment of the Mill Road branch.

According to VandeBerg:

Motion was made and adopted to express interest in the proposed concept presented by Maures Development/Common Bond/Engberg Anderson developer team for the redevelopment of Mill Road library at 7717 W. Good Hope Rd. Before a final decision is made the Board directed staff to:

•​Seek more input about the suggested second use through community meetings hosted by local Aldermen;

•Ensure that the city-owned parcel (7717 W. Good Hope Rd.) is viable for both a library and housing as a second use.

•Review the results of a developer’s market study and environmental study for the feasibility of both affordable housing and market rate housing on the site, and review the 2008 Department of City Development Northwest Side Area Plan.

•Meet with local Aldermen and report to the Board on the findings.

One Other Matter to be Decided:

It occurs to me we are going to have two branch libraries in desperate need of new names, since neither will be located on its eponymous thoroughfare in the future.

“Good Hope Library” might be a good fit, especially since it has a rather uplifting lilt to it.

“Mitchell Street Branch” does have a certain authority to it, as well. But there may be other than street name choices available.

This might be a good community involvement project. Or, perhaps we could monetize it.

Is the city ready to sell naming rights for public buildings? Here might be the chance! How about La Biblioteca El Rey. Come up with something better, if you can.

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.

From Foreclosures, Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing Finance, 2014 LIHTC Yearbook

A Wisconsin developer’s large-scale initiative in neighborhoods on Milwaukee’s North Side is helping reverse the damage of the Great Recession and foreclosure crisis.  By purchasing vacant lots and foreclosed homes from the city, Gorman & Co. has aided in neighborhood revitalization, homeownership opportunities, and job creation.

Over the course of seven phases, the developer built or rehabbed 282 single-family homes or duplexes affordable to residents earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income.

“All of those homes that we redeveloped within the neighborhoods are in a high demand because people in this day and age really find it hard to own a home but want the space of a home to raise a family,” says Ted Matkom, Wisconsin market president for Gorman & Co.

Gorman refurbished the homes, many of which date back to the early 1900s, with modern amenities, appliances and security systems.  “You literally get a new home, in a sense, when you move in,” Matkom says.

After the 15-year compliance period, residents living within the single-family homes will have the opportunity to purchase them for the remaining debt, which is projected to be approximately $35,000.

The acquisition and rehabilitation work also has provided a needed jobs boost in the city.  Gorman partnered with nonprofit Northcott Neighborhood House to create a training program for chronically unemployed local residents with challenged backgrounds.  Through the program, men and women were trained to do construction trade work and demolition work.

Low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) were vital to the developer’s work.  The $56.6 million initiative was financed with $44.1 million in LIHTC equity.  Additional financing included Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds from the city of Milwaukee.

“The LIHTC program really makes the housing sustainable for years to come,” says Matkom.  “And it really revitalizes the housing stock with minimal subsidy.”

Developer Helps to Transform Milwaukee Neighborhoods

By Christine Serlin, Affordable Housing Finance

A Wisconsin developer’s large-scale initiative in neighborhoods on Milwaukee’s North Side is helping to reverse the damage of the Great Recession and foreclosure crisis.

By purchasing vacant lots and foreclosed homes from the city, Gorman & Co.’s work is resulting in neighborhood revitalization, homeownership opportunities, and job creation.

Over the course of seven phases, the developer built or rehabbed 282 single-family homes or duplexes affordable to residents earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income.

“All of those homes that we redeveloped within the neighborhoods are in high demand because people in this day and age really find it hard to own a home but want the space of a home to raise a family,” says Ted Matkom, Wisconsin market president for Gorman & Co.

Gorman refurbished the homes, many of which date back to the early 1900s, with modern amenities, appliances, and security systems. “You literally get a new home in a sense when you move in,” Matkom says.

After the 15-year compliance period, residents living within the single-family homes will have the opportunity to purchase those homes for the remaining debt, which is projected to be approximately $35,000.

Residents must sign a contract of care, which promises that they will maintain the home with ordinary upkeep, such as mowing the grass, shoveling snow from the walkways, and doing minor repairs. This helps to instill homeownership responsibilities in the residents and helps to reduce Gorman’s operating costs since it’s a scattered-site project over a three-mile diameter, says Matkom.

The acquisition and rehabilitation work also has provided a needed jobs boost in the city. Gorman partnered with nonprofit Northcott Neighborhood House to create a training program for chronically unemployed local residents with challenged backgrounds. Men and women were trained to do construction trade work and demolition work.

Low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) were vital to the developer’s work. The $56.6 million seven-phase initiative was financed with $44.1 million in LIHTC equity provided by Alliant Capital, Boston Capital, and National Equity Fund. Additional financing included Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds from the city of Milwaukee.

“The LIHTC program really makes the housing sustainable for years to come,” says Matkom. “And it really revitalizes the housing stock with minimal subsidy.”

2014 Historic Restoration Award Winner Announced, Wisconsin Historical Society

Gorman and Company Inc. of Oregon, Wisconsin, has been awarded the Society’s 2014 Historic Restoration Award for the interior and exterior restoration of The Brewhouse Inn and Suites in downtown Milwaukee.

About the Restoration Award

The award goes to the best restoration work of a Wisconsin historic property that involves comprehensive work to restore a historic building, structure, object, or site.

About the Restoration Project

The project converted the vacant brewhouse, formerly the Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery, into a 90-room, extended stay hotel while maintaining the character of the original brewhouse. The restoration even retained and reused the original copper brew kettles, as seen pictured here.

The restoration was also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified project for saving or reusing much of the building’s historic fabric. A prime example was making all of the headboards and tables in the suites from salvaged heavy timbers removed from the building during its rehabilitation.

A panel of judges from the Wisconsin Historical Society recommended Gorman and Company for the award, which the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Board of Curators approved at its June meeting.

Foundation for the Future

By: Affordable Housing News, Summer 2014

Gorman & Company, a well-established development firm with an extensive portfolio in the Milwaukee area, specializes in providing quality affordable housing to communities that need it most. The company is now using its expertise with the Washington Park Homeowners Initiative (WPHI).

The initiative is geared toward a revitalization effort in Milwaukee’s north side neighborhoods, which were particularly affected by the recent economic downturn. WPHI represents the sixth phase of a larger project, and Gorman & Company plans to continue with at least three more development phases to provide more homeownership opportunities in the area.
“The Washington Park Homeowners Initiative is actually the sixth phase of a much larger initiative that we’re doing in the north side of Milwaukee, which has been ravaged by the foreclosure crises,” says Ted Matkom, Wisconsin Market President for Gorman& Company. “it’s really a product that the neighborhoods are looking for right now.”

ADDRESSING A NEED
Milwaukee’s north side neighborhoods rely heavily on the manufacturing sector for jobs, and in recent years have seen a significant number of these jobs disappear. The housing crises in 2008-2009 exacerbated this problem.

“Many jobs fled Milwaukee to go overseas, and combined with the foreclosure crises and the recession, these north side neighborhoods went into a tailspin that resulted in blighted, vacant homes. That’s why the city has so many tax-foreclosed homes,” Matkom says. “We are purchasing tax-foreclosed homes for $1 each and renovating them with tax credits to stabilize the neighborhood and put those properties back on the tax roll.”

With these initiatives, Gorman & Company is providing options to residents on the city’s north side. The firm is focusing on creating safe, stable neighborhoods that, over the course of numerous efforts, will help to make it an overall more desirable place to live.

According to Matkom, demand for these types of residential options is high on the north side.
“It’s a lower-income neighborhood that really needed an update to the housing stock,” Matkom says. “What’s amazing about it, and the reason why we have so many phases, is the demand. We’ve got waiting lists for single-family homes of 50 people. We would have more, but they get stale, so we keep it at 50. We keep trying to make it a better situation with every phase.”

DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES
The WPHI effort also aims to provide opportunities to help those in need get the skills and experience they need to find jobs. Gorman & Company has partnered with nonprofit organizations to accomplish these goals.

“We’ve done workforce development initiatives with Northcott Neighborhood House, which is using federal, state and local funds to finance the development,” Matkom says. “We assist the chronically homeless and unemployed, in addition to those coming out of the criminal justice system, to cross-train in several trades. Once they graduated from that soft skills and hard skills course, they are put onto a shift that works on siding and demolition for our projects, which are real-time projects to help build a resume. Then they can go off and get hired by the workforce and third-party contractors.”

Engaging in these efforts creates challenges for Gorman & Company, as the firm must work with a significant number of newly trained workers while still completing its developments on time. According to Matkom, however, it’s well worth the effort.

“We create probably 28 family-supporting jobs each phase through that program, and they get hired off to third-party contractors at a regular pace,’ he says. “It’s a challenge for us to keep the quality of the workmanship up, but it’s a good challenge because it’s actually placing people in jobs as a result of the training.”

FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE
Part of Gorman & Company’s motivation for pursuing these extensive revitalization efforts is their overall alignment with the company’s goals. It specializes in working through tax credit initiatives to improve areas that may need additional help. Before beginning efforts in any neighborhood, the firm surveys the community to gain insights about the needs and challenges present.

“Typically, the most challenging projects these communities foresee are the ones that are in our wheelhouse, which are eliminating blight or revitalizing an area that’s blighted,” Matkom says. “This was kind of the prefect project for us because it did have all of those components, which was workforce development and meeting a need in a community to stabilize these north side neighborhoods.”

Moving ahead, Matkom hopes Gorman & Company’s methods for WPHI and beyond will be recognized and replicated elsewhere. Because the firm operates on a housing and economic development model, the company’s leadership is eager to see its long-term effects not only in Milwaukee but also in other adversely affected cities throughout the Midwest.

“I think this model we’ve created in Milwaukee is a true model that can be replicated in other Midwest communities that have lost a lot of manufacturing jobs and were hit by the foreclosure crisis,” Matkom says. “Many Midwest cities suffering from a post-manufacturing letdown from the recession could use this model to rebuild some challenging neighborhoods and make them great workforce housing neighborhoods like they were in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.”