Gorman Completes Conversion of Racine Manufacturing Building

A former Racine manufacturing landmark has been converted into a 100-unit apartment complex geared toward working artists.

Gorman & Co., Madison, spent $14.8 million to renovate the Mitchell-Lewis building, 815 Eighth St. The building was once the home of a wooden wagon manufacturer and later became the facility where luxury Mitchell-Lewis tour cars were made.

The project, called Mitchell Wagon Factory Lofts, is already two-thirds occupied and is designed as live and work space for artists, said Gary Gorman, president of Gorman & Co.

“We do focus groups with artists and they tell us this is the kind of living and working space they want,” said Gary Gorman.

Gorman & Co. opened a similar housing project in June 2002 for artists at 710 W. Mitchell St. in Milwaukee in the former Kunzelmann Esser building.

“Former Milwaukee Mayor (John) Norquist encouraged us to take this approach to revitalizing downtowns and it’s successful,” said Gary Gorman.

The Mitchell Wagon Factory and Kunzelmann Esser lofts include amenities such as a ceramic studio with kiln, photography dark room, painting studio and woodworking shop. The Mitchell Wagon Factory Lofts also include a theater room, a cyber lounge and a fitness center.

The financing for the $14.8 million redevelopment of the Mitchell Wagon Factory Minneapolis, and a $9 million equity investment coming from the sale of Section 42 housing credits and state historic tax credits. The Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority approved the allocation of the low-income housing tax credits for the Gorman & Co. project.

Gorman & Co. estimates that 80 percent of the Mitchell Wagon lofts are set aside for families with moderate income levels. The targeted families are typically entry-level professionals, artists, service workers and retirees who earn no more than 60 percent of the median annual income in Racine.

Monthly rents at Mitchell Wagon Factory Lofts range from $575 to $1,210. The 100-unit building includes 26 one-bedroom, 64 two-bedroom and 10 three-bedroom lofts ranging in size from 957 to 2,638 square feet.