Majestic conversion under way in Westown

Gorman & Company adding 135 apartments to downtown market

Madison developer Gorman & Company is building 135 apartment units in the 14-story, 145,000-square-foot Majestic Building in the 200 block of West Wisconsin Avenue.

Gorman’s development of the downtown Majestic Building, which is connected to the Shops of Grand Avenue is valued at $18 million.

The Majestic is the third major housing project to take hold in the Westown neighborhood in the past two years. In September 2003, Wispark LLC completed its 74-unit Boston Lofts project above Boston Store at Grand Avenue Mall. In late 2003, Metropolitan Group, Waukesha, announced plans to redevelop a 45,000-square-foot former warehouse at 728 N. James Lovell St. into 34 condos.

“The Majestic development fits squarely into Milwaukee’s vision of getting more people to live near where they work,” said Tom Capp, the executive vice president of Gorman & Company.

Also in Westown, a Chicago developer has plans to renovate the 606 Building at the northwest corner of North Sixth Street and Wisconsin Avenue into upscale apartments and condominiums. Towne Realty, Milwaukee, has reached an agreement to sell the 21-story, 98,000-square-foot building, but will not disclose the price or the company that will acquire 75-year-old Art deco structure. The building was constructed in 1908 and has an assessed value of $1.93 million.

The number of housing units in Westown increased from 394 in 2000 to 573 by the end of 2002, according to records at the Milwaukee Department of City Development. The projects recently completed or underway will add another 243 units.

Gorman acquired the Majestic from F.B. Properties Joint Venture, a subsidiary of Towne Realty, for $2.25 million, said Capp. The 135 two-bedroom apartments in the Majestic will rent for $840 up to $1,100 per month.

Complex financing
The multi-layered financing package for the Majestic project includes federal historic tax credits, state historic tax credits, tax-exempt Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority bonds and a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the city of Milwaukee.

“This will be largest affordable housing development in downtown Milwaukee and most complex development we’ve ever attempted,” said Capp.

Amenities for residents in the development include an exercise facility, a half-court indoor basketball court, a business center with high-speed Internet access and a 16-seat home theater center.

The Walgreens drugstore located on the first floor of the Majestic, which has entrances on West Wisconsin Avenue and in the Grand Avenue Mall, will continue to occupy the retail space, said Capp.

Gorman concentrates on converting historic buildings into subsidized affordable apartments, market-rate apartments, and condominiums. Most of the company’s condos are in Madison, but the company has been active in Milwaukee, completing five other apartment projects in the past seven years.

In 2002, the developer completed the conversion of the Kunzelmann-Esser Building at 710 W. Mitchell St. into 67 loft apartments for artists and rehabilitated the 106-unit Golden Domes apartments at South Sixth Street and West Lapham Boulevard.

In late 2003, Gorman finished converting a former knitting factory building at 2102 W. Pierce St. east of Mitchell Park into 100 loft apartments.

The first project Gorman completed in Milwaukee was a 72-unit affordable housing project near the Menomonee River Parkway at North 97th Street and West Bradley road. The company also built a 180-unit market rate complex called Arbor Ridge at North 107th street and Bradley.