Developer to Overhaul South Side Apartments

Gorman & Co. to pay $3.25 million, spend $5 million on renovations

A Madison developer plans to buy and remodel the Golden Domes Apartments on Milwaukee’s south side, an $8 million project that will be the largest investment in the Mitchell St. area in several years.

Gorman & Co. agreed to buy the 117-unit apartment complex at 1630 S. 6th St., just north of the landmark St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, for $3.25 million, said Tom Capp, Gorman’s director of development.

The company will completely revamp the Golden Domes, which was built in 1973 and is in deteriorating condition. The remodeling will include larger apartments, longer leases, better tenant screening, and higher rents. That will bring Gorman’s total investment to almost $8.2 million, Capp said.

“It’s much more than changing the carpeting and painting the walls,” said Capp. “It’s going to be a fundamental reconstruction.”

“It’s really great news for this neighborhood,” said Judi Keller, executive director of the Greater Mitchell Street Association.

Gorman’s plans will help prevent possible problems at the Golden Domes, which now shows signs of “deferred maintenance,” Keller said.

“I think it’s great,” said Mayor John O. Norquist, who originally suggested to Capp that he look at Mitchell St. for development opportunities. “Tom Capp is going to make it an asset for the neighborhood instead of a liability.”

Other investments
The $8.2 million investment planned for the apartment complex comes at a time when Keller said other things are happening in the Mitchell St. area. Among them:

  • Frozen pizza maker Palermo Villa Inc.’s $7.5 million expansion of its factory and warehouse at 800 W. Maple St.
  • Interest from national retailers, including Payless Shoesource, which recently opened a store at 1003 W. Mitchell St.
  • A possible sale and redevelopment of the former Kunzelmann-Esser Co. furniture store, 710 W. Mitchell St.

The Golden Domes project, however, may be the most visible. The apartments can be seen from I-94 and draw their name from St. Stanislaus, which is known for its twin gold-leaf domes.

The Golden Domes sit on land that was bought and cleared in the 1960s for a planned expansion of Notre Dame High School, which was adjacent to St. Stanislaus. Those plans fell through, however, and Notre Dame later closed. It was replaced by Woodlands School, a small, private school.

Early developers saw value
The cleared land was purchased by a partnership led by developer Adrian R. Choinski, a co-founder of Polish Fest and the owner of Adrian Realty Co.

Choinski, who died in 1999, developed the Golden Domes and later sold the apartment complex. The apartments are now owned by Charles and Marilyn Perry, according to city assessment records.

With their flat roofs and bright yellow color, the Golden Domes stand out in a neighborhood where most homes were built long before the 1970s.

Gorman’s plans include new peaked roofs, new paint, bright lighting for the interior halls, a security system, new heating and air conditioning systems, and new appliances, including washing machines and dryers in each unit, Capp said.

“It’ll be a real statement of change to the community,” he said.

The new amenities will include a swimming pool, gym and community center, he said. And Gorman will screen tenants, including criminal background checks.

Also, the apartments will be reconstructed to reduce the number of one-bedroom units and increase the number of two-bedroom units, Capp said. That will help accommodate more families, he said.

Finally, month-to-month leases will be eliminated and replaced largely by one-year leases to reduce the number of transient renters, Capp said.

Completion date in spring 2002
Construction is to begin this summer, Capp said, with work to be finished by spring 2002.

When construction is completed, the current mix of 73 one-bedroom units and 44 two-bedroom units will be replaced by 30 one-bedroom units, 56 two-bedroom units, 11 three-bedroom units and nine efficiencies, Capp said.

Rents for the one-bedroom units will be $520 a month, and rents for the two-bedroom units will be $615 a month, Capp said. Monthly rents at Golden Domes now range from $420 to $575.

Gorman hopes to close on its purchase of the Golden Domes after gaining final approval for affordable housing tax credits, Capp said. The company is scheduled to receive approval in April from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority for $600,000 in credits, which would generate about $4 million in equity financing for the project.

The state and federal governments award affordable housing tax credits to developers, who can then sell the credits to investors to raise equity financing. In return, the developers agree to rent the apartments at below-market rates.

The Golden Domes would be Gorman’s third major apartment project in Milwaukee.

The company is converting a 160,000-square-foot warehouse at 133 W. Oregon St., in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, into 98 loft apartments, known as the Historic Fifth Ward Lofts. Those units will be available starting in July. Gorman also built the 180-unit Arbor Ridge Apartments, 7960 N. 107th St., in 1999.