Wisconsin

Old Pabst Keg House Reborn as Living Space


After over decade of dormancy, there’s now life at the former Pabst keg house.

That’s not just a figure of speech.

On Friday, the first new residents of the 95-unit Blue Ribbon Brewery Lofts apartments – created within the keg house – moved into their new home. Thirty to 45 apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms, are expected to be filled by the end of February, even as workers are in the final stages of the $16.2 million project at 901 W. Winnebago St.

Developer Gorman & Co., based in the Dane County community of Oregon, financed the project mainly with federal affordable housing tax credits, provided through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, and an authority loan, as well as federal and state historic preservation tax credits.

To receive affordable housing credits, developers must lease apartments – at below-market rents – to people earning no more than 60% of the Milwaukee area’s median income. For a one-person household, that maximum income is $28,440, and $32,520 for a two-person household, with the limits increasing as the household size increases.

At Blue Ribbon Lofts apartments, 69 of the apartments are available for income-qualified rents, with monthly rents ranging from $545 to $795, said Chris Laurent, Gorman’s Wisconsin market president. The 26 market-rate apartments rent from around $900 to over $1,200.

A tour of the building shows units with 15-foot ceilings, the exposed brick and steel columns of the building’s industrial past, and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of downtown’s skyline.

The building’s amenities include indoor parking, a fitness center and a media center.

Blue Ribbon also has some unusual touches, including a music recording studio, as well as individual spaces that can be used as photo studios, computer labs and other work spaces aimed at artists and entrepreneurs, Laurent said. Gorman is marketing the building to those groups, a strategy that has paid off at the firm’s Kunzelmann-Esser Lofts, 710 W. Historic Mitchell St., and Park East Enterprise Lofts, 1407 N. King Drive.

Blue Ribbon Lofts is among the first completed projects at the redeveloped 21-acre former Pabst complex, known as The Brewery. Milwaukee real estate investor Joseph Zilber, who bought the property in 2006, has been selling off some of the buildings to Gorman and other developers. Zilber also is building a 900-car parking garage.

The city is providing $29 million to help redevelop the Pabst complex. Most of the money will help pay for demolition, environmental cleanup and construction of new streets, sewers and other public improvements.

Property taxes from the $205 million development will pay off the city’s debt, plus an estimated $12.5 million in interest charges, over 22 years.

Pabst Brewing Co. shut down the brewery in 1996.