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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

Developer Gorman realizing impact of housing at Pabst

By Sean Ryan, Milwaukee Business Journal, March 21, 2014

Developer Gary Gorman said he now knows the market for apartments in The Brewery in Milwaukee because there is a waiting list of people trying to get into his existing Blue Ribbon Lofts there.

That’s a good confidence builder as Gorman & Co. Inc. prepares to break ground on 100 additional market-rate apartments in The Brewery campus north of downtown Milwaukee.

But it wasn’t always this way, said Gorman, CEO of the Oregon, Wis.-based company. Development of the 95-unit Blue Ribbon Lofts, which opened in 2009, was a “white-knuckle ride,” he said, because the redevelopment of the large former Pabst Brewing Co. campus was just starting.

“I thought that was a pretty high-risk thing,” he said of the Blue Ribbon Lofts. “I didn’t know how the market would react.”

Blue Ribbon Lofts, which has a mix of market-rate and affordable apartments, is performing well, driving the follow-up Frederick Lofts project that will open in July 2015. Other buildings at The Brewery will be converted into housing for seniors and foreign college students.

“We were the pioneer in terms of residential,” Gorman said. “People will move into challenged or new neighborhoods if you give them an interesting place to live.”

Whitestone Realty Capital, New York City, is planning an up to $46 million restoration of buildings in The Brewery to create 124 senior housing units. Construction is expected to begin in April for a July 2015 opening.

Blue Ribbon Management LLC plans to renovate a different building in The Brewery into 360 housing units for foreign students attending Milwaukee colleges. That project also includes a 40-room extended-stay hotel.

Frederick Lofts at Pabst

By , Reporter- Milwaukee Business Journal, March 15, 2014

Work will start this month on Gorman & Co.’s market-rate apartment project in The Brewery in Milwaukee after the developer secured financing and bought the project site.

The four-story building will open to tenants in July 2015, with rents starting at $1,350 for a one-bedroom and $1,750 for a two-bedroom unit. The three live/work units will start at $1,450 a month.

The Frederick Lofts will be built at North Ninth Street and West Juneau Avenue in the former Pabst Brewing Co. campus just outside of downtown Milwaukee.

BMO Harris Bank has closed on $10.3 million in financing for the project, said Gary Gorman, chief executive officer of Gorman & Co., Oregon, Wis. Gorman also has $6 million through a Chinese investor. Chinese investors, through the federal EB-5 immigration program, have financed several projects in The Brewery in exchange for green cards.

This investor, however, simply is putting money into the project without using the federal program, Gorman said. The investor, who Gorman met through his connections in Shanghai, selected the project after touring The Brewery and the Brewhouse Inn & Suites hotel that Gorman developed.

“He made the decision on the spot,” Gorman said. “Just made a $6 million decision on the spot and shook our hands and said, ‘That’s it.’ We had to talk him into hiring a lawyer for it. He said, ‘But I just shook hands with Gorman.’”

Gorman last week also closed the $1.4 million land purchase for the site with The Brewery’s owners. which is run by executives at Zilber Property Group.

Gorman’s project is among a slew that developers are getting out of the ground this spring in that area.

“Part of it is interest rates are very favorable right now,” Gorman said. “That really makes the numbers work, and the demand is good.”

Pabst apartments site sells for $1.4 million

By Tom Daykin, The Journal Sentinal, March 18, 2014

A planned apartment site at downtown Milwaukee’s former Pabst brewery has  been sold to a developer for $1.4 million.

The 1.3-acre site, at 810-840 W. Juneau Ave., was sold to Frederick Lofts  LLC, an affiliate of Oregon, Wis.-based Gorman & Co., by Brewery Project  LLC, according to state real estate documents recorded Monday.

Gorman in August announced it would develop a four-story building with  100 high-end units, known as Frederick Lofts, at that site. Construction is to  begin this spring, with the building completed by spring 2015.

This will be the third development Gorman has done at the former Pabst  complex, now known as The Brewery.

Gorman converted the former keg house into the 95-room Blue Ribbon Lofts  apartments, 901 W. Winnebago St., and converted the former brewhouse and  millhouse into the 90-room Brewhouse Inn & Suites hotel, 1215 N. 10th  St.


Gorman & Co. revising Union Corners plans after cool reception from staff, neighborhood

By:  Dean Mosiman, Wisconsin State Journal, February 13, 2014

After a recent proposal got a cool reception, Gorman & Co. is revising  plans for the long-dormant  Union Corners project on the corner of East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee  Street.

Meanwhile, Gebhardt Development has sought brief delays on city approvals to  make final tweaks to a $70 million to $85 million redevelopment in the 800 block  of East Washington Avenue.

Gorman’s latest proposal envisions less surface parking and more underground  spaces, taller commercial buildings, and shorter apartment buildings near  existing single-family homes in the neighborhood.

Gary Gorman declined to reveal full details until sharing them with a  neighborhood steering committee on Saturday.

“I’m confident we’ll please enough people to gain support,” he said. The  neighborhood review will be followed by submission of a formal plan, to go  before the Urban Design Commission in May.

Gorman was chosen in late 2012 to develop the 11.4-acre Union Corners site,  acquired by the city two years earlier. On Oct. 30, 2013, the city and Gorman  signed an agreement under which the city would sell the site to Gorman for $1,  repaying the city’s $6 million investment through higher property taxes  generated by the estimated $83.9 million project.

But informal plans  Gorman offered in January called for a less-dense development, with more parking  lots, less public space, and four-story apartment buildings near existing  single-family homes.

The project changed for several reasons, Gorman said. Initial concepts were  based on $14 million in tax increment financing support, not the current  agreement that provides land but no cash, he said. Also, negotiations with UW  Health, which wants a two-story, 60,000-square-foot clinic at the corner of East  Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street, resulted in the elimination of a parking  structure, to be replaced with more underground and surface parking, he said.  Talks for landing a perhaps 25,000-square-foot grocery meant even more parking  space.

Gorman said he’s unable to make the health clinic building taller. But he has  removed some surface parking in favor of a 240-space underground garage,  increased the potential height of commercial buildings from four to six stories,  and cut the height of the apartment buildings to two stories.

Ald. Marsha Rummel, 6th District, called the proposed changes “the first step  in a conversation” and said she was optimistic “we can figure this out.”

Gebhardt, despite the latest delay, is closer to approvals.

A first phase includes a 55,000-square-foot Skogen’s Festival Foods grocery  store, 30,000 square feet of retail/office space, 215 apartments and a  four-story parking garage with 500 spaces, Otto Gebhardt said. A second piece  has 60,000 to 100,000 square feet of retail/office space, 26 owner-occupied  units, 20 townhouses and 200 more parking stalls, he said. Gebhardt is seeking a  $7 million TIF loan.

“If you get a great project, the wait and the late start is worth it,” said  Ald. Ledell Zellers, 2nd District.

Gebhardt hopes to begin phase one in April, completing that piece in summer  2015.

Where to Go in 2014

By:  Jetsetter, January 15, 2014

The New Year brings renewed wanderlust and a fresh haul of vacation days to put to good use. We’ve tapped our top travel insiders, got the scoop from destination experts and engaged in some heated office debates to present our 14 hottest destinations for 2014.

Number 4, Milwaukee, WI:

On the banks of Lake Michigan, Wisconsin’s largest city is going through a quiet renaissance while hanging on to its Old World outlook. In the city’s rapidly changing Downtown, Brewhouse Inn & Suites stole the hipster crown from the Iron Horse Hotel when it opened in the old Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery in May, while a short hop south, the historic Third Ward District is seeing ever-growing foot traffic along its riverside walks and in newly popular restaurants — crowds that will only grow when Kimpton makes its debut in 2015. South of the river, the Walker’s Point area is becoming an unofficial foodie hub, with Great Lakes Distillery, Indulgence Chocolatiers, the cultish Purple Door Ice Cream and Braise Restaurant all featuring on Bon Appetit’s Top 50 list this year.

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.

Brewhouse Inn offers outpourings of luxury, history

By Molly Snyder,, December 5, 2013

Perhaps the coolest part of staying at a hotel built inside a former brewery is that it really feels like you’re staying at a hotel built inside a former brewery.

From the moment we walked into the Brewhouse Inn Suites – in the former Pabst brewhouse – we were swept up in brewing history.

At times, it actually felt like we were on a brewery tour instead of an overnight excursion in a brewery hotel. This is, in part, due to the seven brewing kettles which remain in the building and are the heart of the hotel.

Directly over the check-in desk, there’s a kettle doubling as a polished dome in the ceiling and six more kettles stand in the atrium of the hotel.

Even though it has been more than 17 years since beer was actually brewed in the Pabst building – known as building #20 – the kettles give the space a very active, industrial feel, almost as if they might spontaneously fire up at any moment.

The atrium also features a large stained glass window depicting King Gambrinus, the unofficial patron saint of brewing, and an assortment of vintage furniture to pay homage to the brewski king, watch vintage Pabst commercials or just hang out in the history-rich splendor.

The hotel has 90 guest rooms that are either one- or two-bedroom suites. The sixth (top) floor features the Baron suites which have terraces and incredible views.

The rooms run between $189 and $399 per night and are designed for short- or long-term guests with an almost full kitchen stocked with a stovetop, full-sized fridge and an assortment of cooking and eating utensils.

“While the hotel was designed for guests staying longer than five days, it is a great location for girls’ weekends, family gatherings, wedding groups and corporate groups looking for a unique hotel experience that speaks ‘Milwaukee,’” says Sue Kinas of the Brewhouse Inn.

The steampunky decor includes exposed hardware, deep brown tones, distressed furniture and pipes repurposed as towel holders. Plus, the tables and headboards are made from wood originally harvested in Sheboygan in the 1880s.

There are plenty of modern luxuries, too. The bed, for example, was one of the most comfortable we’ve ever slept on and the shower was perfect in pressure and temperature.

Guests are also invited to a continental breakfast in the Blue Room, which was the brewery’s break room that included beer taps. Today, Stone Creek coffee is served instead, but the centerpieces on the table are Pabst bottles used as vases for stalks of wheat.

Quite possibly the Brewhouse’s best feature, however, is the number of windows. Originally constructed in 1882, the brewhouse required more than 300 windows at the time because the city had limited electricity. Today, the plethora of windows provide an incredible amount of natural light in the space and great views of Downtown.

“The Brewhouse is a one-of-a-kind property designed to celebrate the history of Milwaukee’s brewing and reignite the passion of beer and remind everyone about Milwaukee’s roots,” says Kinas.

The Brewhouse Inn & Suites is on the National Registry of Historic Places and part of The Brewery, a sustainable neighborhood that is LEED Platinum certified.

The complex was purchased by Joseph Zilber in 2006. The $20 million construction project began in October 2011 and the hotel opened in late April 2013.

Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub – which was once the milling house known as building #21 – is connected to the hotel and offers a large selection of food items, including an excellent Friday night fish fry.

The space has 30-foot ceilings, a tin ceiling, large screens for game watching and a full bar. (Note the hilarity of the Pabst tapper, which was once a railing spindle and is massive in comparison to the others.)

The other appealing aspect of the Brewhouse is the location. The restored buildings – and those currently under construction – give the gritty, sprawling space a rush of warmth and fresh life. It feels both eerie and abandoned as well as urban and bustling.

Best Place, which once housed Pabst’s offices, is located across the street from the hotel and is well worth a visit for beer drinking and more history. Building owner Jim Haertel gives an extremely entertaining tour.

And if you’re not too Pabst-ed out, the Pabst Mansion – the 1892 home of Capt. Pabst – is just a mile away.

History buffs and beer geeks will most appreciate the experience because of their ability to access so much of Milwaukee’s brewing history. The many artifacts and literature to examine make the hotel part museum.

“Guests interested in history, beer and an environment where they will be treated with customer service otherwise long gone will find The Brewhouse a delight,” says Kinas.