Tag Archives: Gorman & Company Inc.

Grocery store, affordable housing in the works for east Madison’s Union Corners

BRYNA GODAR | The Capital Times | bgodar@madison.com

After months of planning and repeated delays, pieces of Gorman & Co.’s Union Corners project are starting to fall into place.

The project combines a UW Health Clinic, affordable housing and retail on the vacant two-block site along East Washington Avenue, Milwaukee Street and Winnebago Street.

The city approved the medical clinic in early October and the City Council allocated tentative funding for the residential piece in early December. The developer has mentioned potential grocery tenants in neighborhood meetings on the project.

Although the final residential plans have yet to be approved, the developer has proposed two mixed-use buildings, consisting primarily of affordable housing.

In December, the City Council approved the allocation of up to $3 million to assist Union Corners along with two other affordable housing projects: Maple Grove Commons and Tennyson Ridge. All three will be applying for tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and pre-determined city assistance can aid in that process. The final dollar amounts will be worked out in January.

The Union Corners project will include a total of 90 units, 14 going at market rate and 76 marked as affordable with a range of one to three bedrooms. The majority of the affordable units will target those making 60 percent or less of the area median income, with some targeting those making 20 percent or less.

There will be underground parking and retail on the ground floor of each building, which front Winnebago Street.

Gorman & Co. has also said it is working to bring a grocery store to the development, possibly Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.

The overall project and its components have drawn mixed reactions and desires from the neighbors, including conversations about what “affordable” means and what the buildings will look like.

A second neighborhood meeting on the project will take place Thursday, Jan. 8, 5 p.m. at the Goodman Community Center. The Gorman & Co. team will discuss updates on the proposed building design and the WHEDA application for tax credits.

The construction dates for the project have repeatedly been pushed back and groundbreaking on the residential component is now slated for January 2016 if financing goes through.

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.”

Tax credits revive historic renovations

By:  Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 8, 2014

Jim Haertel was considering the financing options for expanding his tavern at  downtown Milwaukee’s former Pabst brewery.

His decision was made much easier when state officials quadrupled the value  of a tax credit given to developers of historic preservation projects.

“We were on the fence,” Haertel said. “And suddenly that tipped the scales  toward definitely wanting to go for the credits.”

He is among several owners of historic buildings who are tapping the  increased tax credits, which are expected to cost state taxpayers millions of  dollars. The new credit level took effect Jan. 31, following the 2013  approval by the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker.

The new law raised the state income tax credit to 20% of the qualified  remodeling costs of historic commercial buildings, doubling it from 10%. The  Legislature passed the bill in October, just months after the credit was  increased from 5%. The state credit supplements a federal program that provides  tax credits for 20% of such costs.

The state tax credit’s boost received bipartisan support. Advocates said the  credit increase was needed to help Wisconsin compete with other states for  investor funding of preservation projects, which are more costly than new  construction. In return for the credits, developers follow federal rules on  preservation remodeling techniques and materials.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 31 states provide  historic preservation tax credits. Most of those credits are in the 20% to 25%  range for commercial restoration projects.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which operates the state program, has  seen increased interest from developers with the higher credit taking effect,  said Mark Maley, the group’s public information manager.

The higher credit may help attract national historic preservation development  firms to Wisconsin, said Milwaukee Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux.

It also could help bring to life commercial preservation projects that  otherwise would have languished because of feasibility concerns, he said.

“It’s a move in the right direction,” Marcoux said.

That higher credit level could be especially valuable for smaller projects,  said Matt Jarosz, an associate adjunct professor at University of  Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning. He’s organizing  a March 28 workshop about the state and federal tax credits.

“In the past, small projects just weren’t worth the complexity of the tax  credit program,” Jarosz said. “Moving to the 40% zone can start to make it  possible.”

Rebuilding history

Milwaukee historic developments under consideration include the possible  conversion of the upper floors of a downtown building into market-rate  apartments, Maley said.

The seven-story Posner Building, 152 W. Wisconsin Ave., features Mo’s Irish  Tavern on parts of the first and second floors, but is otherwise largely  vacant.

Kyle Strigenz, co-owner of HKS Holdings LLC, which is considering the  redevelopment plan, declined to comment, saying it was too early to discuss the  possible project. The Milwaukee firm has done other historic preservation  projects, including last year’s conversion of the former JH Collectibles  clothing factory into the 50-unit Junior  House Lofts, 710 S. Third St.

Another proposal on downtown’s west side would convert the Germania  Building, 135 W. Wells St., into 78 apartments, along with 14,000 square  feet of street-level commercial space. The developers, Endeavour Corp. and  Vangard Group LLC, have declined to comment on that proposed project, which  could combine tax credits for both historic preservation and affordable  apartments.

At the Pritzlaff  Hardware Co. complex, at W. St. Paul and N. Plankinton avenues, developer  Ken Breunig is continuing his restoration project and plans to use the higher  state tax credits. Portions of the buildings have been converted into offices  and banquet rooms, and Breunig is proceeding this year with plans to restore  additional space for commercial use.

“It has definitely helped make the numbers work,” Breunig said.

At the former Pabst complex, now known as The Brewery, Chicago-based Blue  Ribbon Management LLC hopes to begin work this spring on converting the former  Pabst bottling  house into apartments marketed to international students at Marquette  University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and other area colleges.

The increased state tax credits “will be a great help” in financing that  development, along with plans to convert a nearby former church into commercial  space, said Tom Gehl, Blue Ribbon Management chief executive officer.

Haertel is adding around 6,000 square feet of banquet space at the former  Pabst brewery’s visitors center and offices, known as Best Place at the Historic  Pabst Brewery, 901 W. Juneau Ave.

Best Place  includes a gift shop, Blue Ribbon Hall banquet room and The Little Tavern on The  Hill. The additional banquet space, converted from an 1880 office building, will  provide an additional room for wedding receptions and other events.

Haertel plans to spend around $750,000, with around $500,000 qualifying for  the preservation credits. Combining the state and federal programs would raise  around $200,000 in tax credits, which Haertel plans to use to reduce his income  tax bill.

A U.S. Small Business Administration loan through First Bank Financial Centre  is providing $670,000 for the project, with Haertel providing around $100,000 in  equity cash. He plans to begin the work in March, and have the banquet room  completed by July.

Cost to taxpayers

Elsewhere in Wisconsin, other projects tapping the higher credits include  separate plans to convert a former Manitowoc factory and a former Madison  seminary into apartments.

Oregon, Wis.-based Gorman & Co. is pursuing the Madison project, which  would create 87 apartments at the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center. The additional tax  credits help attract more equity cash because developers have the option of  selling them to banks and other investors, said company President Gary  Gorman.

“Some of our projects in the pipeline may be more feasible now,” said Gorman,  whose firm’s historic redevelopments include the Brew  House Inn and Suites at The Brewery, at 1215 N. 10th St.

Another project that was already in the works — but now will be easier to  finance — is the proposed redevelopment of a former Mirro Co. factory in Manitowoc into 40 apartments, an $8  million project known as Artists Lofts. Robert Lemke and Todd Hutchison, who  operate Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Redevelopment LLC, are the developers.

The higher credits “really enhance the viability of these projects,” said  Lemke. The firm’s other projects include helping with the planned restoration of  a historic Wauwatosa building into a charter school.

The higher credit comes at a cost for state taxpayers.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated the credit will cost taxpayers $8.6  million over the next two years, based on the level of past use by developers of  the credit when it was at the 5% level.

The agency also said quadrupling the credit’s value could result in a  significantly higher cost to the state if developers increase their use of the  program.

Supporters say the higher cost amounts to an investment that creates jobs and  higher tax revenues. Lemke also cites another benefit.

“We’re saving these buildings for future generations,” he said.

Read more from Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/business/tax-credits-revive-historic-renovations-b99198885z1-244545101.html#ixzz2swIFlHGx Follow us: @JournalSentinel on Twitter


Gracie’s Village is Fully-Accessible for the Disabled

TEMPE, AZ (November 27, 2013) – Gorman & Company, in partnership with Grace Community Church of the Valley, is proud to announce the grand opening of an affordable, mixed-use housing development on Apache Blvd along the Valley Metro light rail line, called Gracie’s Village.  

The Gracie’s Village project is a unique public/private/non-profit partnership between Gorman & Company, Grace Community Church of the Valley, the Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH) and the City of Tempe.  The new development includes a mix of ground floor community facilities including a brand new thrift store and three additional stories containing 50 affordable residential housing units above the store.

Gracie’s Village is solar powered and is designed to a LEED-Gold standard through its use of green building technologies.  Using a variety of Universal Design principles, the affordable rental units are fully accessible to the physically disabled.

The rental units have affordable rents ranging from $394-$606 for 1 Bedroom, $463-$717 for 2 Bedroom and $525-$818 for 3 Bedroom units and will be rented to income-eligible families earning between 40% and 60% of the county median income, or approximately $18,600 to $46,260 per year.

Specific amenities include a multi-purpose room for before and after school care, a Wi-Fi internet lounge, a roof deck, playground, picnic area, front-loading energy-efficient washers & dryers inside each unit, hard-surface flooring and electronically-controlled entry. Gracie’s Village is located at 1520 E. Apache Blvd in Tempe.

A dedication and ribbon-cutting for Gracie’s Village will take place on November 27th with an Open House and Tours to start at 4:30pm. The Ceremony and Dedication will start at 5:30pm. For more information or to attend, please contact Ron Meritt at ON Advertising at (480) 225-0722.

About Gorman & Company, Inc.

Gorman & Company, Inc. specializes in revitalizing communities through innovative housing partnerships. As a trusted partner and respected industry leader since 1984, they specialize in downtown revitalization, the preservation of affordable housing, workforce housing and the adaptive reuse of significant historic buildings.  Learn more at www.gormanusa.com.



Escobedo at Verde Vista is Fully Accessible for the Disabled

Mesa, AZ (December 2, 2013) – Gorman & Company, in partnership with Affordable Rental Movement (A.R.M.) of Save the Family Foundation, the West Mesa CDC and the City of Mesa are proud to announce a grand opening for the completely redeveloped Escobedo at Verde Vista Public Housing.

Escobedo at Verde Vista is a state of the art, environmentally friendly, redeveloped housing location designed to a LEED-Gold Standard through its use of building technologies.  Located at 125 E. University Drive in Mesa, Escobedo at Verde Vista will house 70 units along with a leasing office, multi-purpose building for a before and after school program, a computer lab, training center, and a museum dedicated to preserving the rich history of the location.

The units rent for $386-$562 for a 1BR, $460-$630 for a 2BR, and $525-$801 for a 3BR.  Families eligible for this location earn between 40% and 60% of the county median income, which is between $18,600 and $46,260

The amenities include hard surface flooring, dual flush toilets, low flow plumbing fixtures, artificial turf, radiant barrier sheathing and high reflectivity roofing, and high performance Energy Star windows and lighting systems.  The development will also have access to free wireless internet, picnic tables, and a playground.

A ribbon-cutting for Escobedo at Verde Vista will take place on December 4th at 4:00pm followed by a reception at Save the Family at 5:00pm.  For more information or to attend, please contact Ron Meritt at (480) 225-0722.

About Gorman & Company, Inc.

Gorman & Company, Inc. specializes in revitalizing communities through innovative housing partnerships. As a trusted partner and respected industry leader since 1984, they specialize in downtown revitalization, the preservation of affordable housing, workforce housing and the adaptive reuse of significant historic buildings.  Learn more at www.gormanusa.com.

Madison Catholic Diocese plans to turn headquarters into rental housing

By Doug Erickson, Wisconsin State Journal, September 26, 2013

The Madison Catholic Diocese has reached a tentative agreement with a  developer to vacate its headquarters at the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral  Center on the city’s Far West Side and turn the former seminary into rental  housing.

Under the plan, the diocese will lease the building for 60 years to developer  Gary Gorman, whose company will renovate the 232,000-square-foot structure and  create 100 to 150 apartments. The diocese will retain ownership of the  property.

Bishop Robert Morlino announced the plan to about 120 priests gathered  Wednesday in Wisconsin Dells for an annual meeting.

The decision is not because of budget problems, said Monsignor James  Bartylla, the diocese’s second in command. Rather, the aging O’Connor Center,  702 S. High  Point Road, is underused and would require more than $15 million in capital  improvements over the next 30 years to keep it as the diocese’s headquarters, he  said.

This is the best way to preserve the legacy of a landmark building while  being good stewards of church finances, Bartylla said.

“It strikes a balance between the economics of the situation and preserving  the history of the diocese,” he said.

Diocesan officials expect to save an estimated $500,000 annually by getting  out from under the costs of operating the center. In addition, the lease  agreement will provide revenue to fund church activities, diocesan spokesman  Brent King said. The lease amount has not been set but likely will vary over the  course of the agreement, he said.

If the plan goes through, it will be a for-profit venture by Gorman &  Company, and the property would return to the tax rolls, King said. “This is  only just and reasonable,” he said.

Only about 36 percent of the building’s square footage is being used right  now, Bartylla said.

The diocese will need to find a new home for its administrative offices,  including the bishop’s office. Catholic Charities also is based at the center.  Together, about 100 people work at the site, King said.

A new site has not yet been found for the offices. It likely will be leased  space, not existing diocesan property, because no parish would have the amount  of square footage needed, Bartylla said.

Additionally, the O’Connor Center is home to four retired priests and five  active priests. New quarters will be found for them, King said.

The chapel, located in the center of the building, will be preserved, but its  use in the future has not been determined, Bartylla said.

At the end of the 60 years, the building would revert to diocesan control. A  firmer development agreement is expected by Nov. 15.

The lease agreement would cover only about 10 acres of the 72-acre Bishop  O’Connor Center site, Bartylla said. No decisions have been made on the future  of the other acres, he said.

Realistically, renovation likely would not begin until next summer or fall,  said Gary Gorman, chief executive officer. The company anticipates spending $30  million to $40 million to renovate the building, he said.

Gorman said the rental housing would be for the general public, not targeted  to Catholics. He envisions it appealing to “working people on the West Side who  don’t want to live in a generic white box — people who want to live somewhere  interesting.”

The company will renovate the building as a “certified historic  rehabilitation,” in accordance with historic preservation guidelines prescribed  by the National Park Service, Gorman said.

Gorman has a long history of working with the diocese as a developer.  Additionally, he has served as a board member and board president of Catholic  Charities. He attends Holy Mother of Consolation Parish in Oregon.

The Bishop O’Connor Center was first known as Holy Name Seminary, opening to  students in 1964. The seminary closed in 1995.

Both parties will jointly approve a name for the redeveloped site.

“The time is right to consider how best to use that place for the ministry of  the church,” said the Rev. Paul Arinze, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption  Parish in Beloit. “When the bishop was talking to us, he reminded us that we are  like fathers at home — you have a wife and children and must constantly make  decisions based on what’s best for the future of the family.”

Sure, there is sentimental value to the building, said Monsignor Daniel  Ganshert, pastor of two parishes in Watertown and among the first students at  Holy Name Seminary. But priests recognize that change is part of life and part  of the ministry, he said.

“I’m just happy the building is still going to be there,” he said. “It’s  going to stand there like it has for the last 50 years and remind us and  encourage us to look to the future of the diocese and its people.”

Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/madison-catholic-diocese-plans-to-turn-headquarters-into-rental-housing/article_c2ca6b79-71fe-5623-9df2-cef9eea92593.html#ixzz2g0Ltmi9v

$10 million in tax credits awarded for Nogales project

By Curt Prendergast Nogales International | August 14, 2013

What can you do with $10 million? For a local group looking to rejuvenate a downtown landmark, the answer is 48 units of affordable senior housing, with commercial and community spaces to boot.

The Bowman Senior Residences, formerly the Bowman Hotel, built a century ago, was awarded $1.03 million in tax credits from the Arizona Department of Housing on Aug. 1, credits that are renewed every year for the next decade, bringing the funding to a grand total of $10.25 million.

The award was announced at Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Nogales City Council by Yvonne Delgadillo, executive director of the Nogales Community Development Corporation, which has led the charge in searching for funding for the project.

“For us, it’s a huge accomplishment because as I’ve said, we’ve been working on it for seven years and it always seemed really difficult to identify the resources that were needed,” she said.

The finished project will combine the Bowman Hotel property with the De Anza property next door to create 48 units of housing for low-income seniors, with the bottom floor to be used for commercial and community spaces, she said.

“What does it mean to us as a community? It means that we’ll be able to secure the resources that we need for a project that we’ve been envisioning as a community,” she said.

Now that the funding has been secured, contracts to begin work on the project should be awarded by March 2014, she said.

Delgadillo thanked the city council for their support, saying “you guys were instrumental in this process. We really couldn’t have done it without the city’s support and without the community’s support.”

Not only was the funding a key part of realizing the project, it also showed that Nogales could compete with larger cities, she said, noting that only seven projects were awarded funding this year.

“What’s really neat is that a small community like Nogales was able to compete at the same caliber as Tucson and Phoenix projects that bring in millions of dollars are able to compete,” she said.

To secure the funding, the NCDC partnered with Gorman and Co., a Phoenix-based developer.

When all is said and done, the NCDC will own 51 percent of the project and Gorman and Co. will own 49 percent. Both worked together to secure the financing and that partnership will continue operating the residences, said Brian Swanton, of Gorman and Co.

How it works

So how will the NCDC and Gorman and Co. take those tax credits and turn them into money they can use?

The $1.03 million comes in the form of Low-Income Tax Credits (LIHTC), a federal program begun in 1986 that has provided $75 billion in tax credits to fund more than 2.5 million affordable rental homes, nearly all of the affordable housing projects in the U.S. built in that time.

Every year, the Bowman project will receive another $1.03 million in tax credits, which will be sold at a discount to investors, usually large banks, insurance companies, or corporations, Gorman said.

“They’ll buy them for anywhere from 80 to 95 cents on the dollar and then they get an annual tax credit in the amount of their allocation every year for 10 straight years,” Swanton said.

Investors in the Bowman project likely will pay 80 to 85 cents on the dollar, Delgadillo wrote in an email, which should generate at least $8.3 million, which she estimated would amount to about 80 percent of the project’s total cost.

As part of the LIHTC, the rent is restricted for 30 years and in the case of the Bowman Senior Residences, rent will be set at a rate that is affordable to seniors who earn less than 60 percent of the median income in Santa Cruz County, Swanton said.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury allots about $14 million annually to Arizona through the LIHTC program. In Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Santa Cruz County, the tax credits have funded 5,627 apartments through $5.65 million in tax credits.

Of Hope and Heritage

Of Hope and Heritage




They are inconspicuously known as Buildings 20 and 21, part of a 21-acre industrial complex perched atop a hill on the north end of downtown that once was a symbol of prosperity, hard work and civic identity. But when the Pabst Brewing Co. abruptly closed its doors in December 1996, the once shining symbol that had long been in decline, stood vacant, deteriorating, and festering on the consciousness of our collective and proud German heritage. Even as other areas of the city were reborn through redevelopment, the Pabst site remained untouched, its Cream City brick facades darkening over time.


In 2006, Milwaukee entrepreneur and philanthropist Joseph Zilber purchased the property for $13 million with the goal of revitalizing the former manufacturing site into a mixed-use urban neighborhood formed on the ideals of historic preservation and sustainability.

Since that time, a handful of the remaining buildings (some of the 25 were torn down) have been purchased by developers and universities for use as apartments, offices and educational facilities. But when Buildings 20 and 21 open this spring as the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, they are sure to bring Milwaukeeans to the site of the former brewery graveyard to see for themselves the hope and heritage that are alive there.


For more than 15 years, he was trapped in the dark, behind planks of plywood and layers of soot. Today, King Gambrinus, the unofficial patron saint of brewers, holds court in a stained glass masterpiece two stories tall, raising his glass in a friendly toast to visitors at the new Brewhouse Inn & Suites.

The Gambrinus window is more than 125 years old, says Peter Northard, the hotel’s general manager, and was created by the Milwaukee artist Frederick Wilhelm Heine and manufactured by the Charles Baumbach Co. of Milwaukee. It was uncovered during the repurposing of two of the Pabst Brewing Co.’s old brewhouse buildings at 1015 N. 10th St.

The Cream City brick buildings, originally known as Buildings 20 and 21, were built in the late 1870s and early 1880s and are on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places. They have been joined together and renovated by owners Gorman & Co. into the city’s newest destination hotel.

The resurrection of the Pabst buildings was a monumental task. They had been boarded up and maintenance had been neglected since the Milwaukee brewery closed shop in 1996. One of the biggest challenges after Gorman & Co. bought the property in 2011, Northard says, was retrofitting the buildings with energy-efficient electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems.

Northard, who has been working for Gorman & Co. since April 2012, says he was attracted to the project because of the property’s history and the important role that Pabst Brewing played in Milwaukee’s development during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

“Capt. Frederick Pabst built it with the intent of having the building be a symbol of the brewery as much as a place to brew the beer itself,” Northard explains. As he was researching its history, Northard learned that Pabst not only wanted a brewery that his employees would be proud to work in, “but one that he could show off to visitors and potential customers. Pabst was one of the first breweries in the world to give public tours, and at one time was the largest brewer in the world.”

Pabst hired some of Milwaukee’s finest masons, ironworkers and craftsmen to build his showplace. “Those who built the various components of the brewery went on to start other industries in the city, especially in the metalworking and machinery areas,” Northard says.

Much of their impressive work at the Pabst Brewery has been integrated into the interior design of the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, giving the hotel its uniquely Milwaukee character.
Two enormous copper brewing kettles have been converted into shimmering domes presiding over the hotel’s lobby. The front desk was constructed using more than 1,500 amber beer bottles. The balusters of a sweeping staircase just inside the main entrance feature the original pounded-iron barley design.

Perhaps the most storied space, though, is just north of the main entrance. Known as the “Blue Room,” it was originally a break room where employees could relax and enjoy a beer. Sue Kinas, sales manager for the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, says when the building was still an active brewery, police officers from the First District would drop by after their shifts and have a drink with Pabst employees in the break room. “That’s why they called it the Blue Room,” she notes.

https://asoft493.securesites.net/secure/mmagazines/clientuploads/Interior_Taste/May_2013/Dining_brewhouse4_05.jpgA doorway in the room, which is now used as a breakfast space for the hotel, has been painted blue as a nod to its past.

Since the buildings were built before the widespread use of electricity, more than 300 windows let the sun shine into 90 guest suites on six floors. Each of the suites, from studio styles to two-bedroom lofts, is a bit different, Kinas says.

The rooms are designed for the extended stay traveler, Kinas says, and include fully equipped kitchens. Tables are topped with repurposed joists from the building, and some joists also were used to create one-of-a-kind headboards. Rooms are outfitted with a stunning combination of antique furnishings, such as four-poster beds and contemporary, steampunk-inspired pieces.

Views of downtown Milwaukee from the spacious sixth-floor “Baron Terrace Suites” are outstanding, especially from the rooms’ private terraces.

One of the show-stopping public spaces in the Brewhouse Inn & Suites is the Kettle Atrium on the second floor. It features the brewery’s original copper kettles, polished to a fine sheen, as well as the original terra cotta floor and subway tiles lining the walls. A spiraling iron stairwell, which was once used to connect the fourth and sixth floors, is now a towering piece of sculpture in a corner of the space. Artist Adam Nilson painted the huge Brewhouse logo on one of the Kettle Atrium’s walls; he also is the artist who created the convincing faux finishes in the lobby and throughout the hotel. Kinas says the Kettle Atrium is used for cocktail parties and other social events.

It seems fitting that Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub is also an attraction at the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, due to open later this month. The restaurant and bar features 30-foot ceilings, and the space’s original tin ceiling, which had been destroyed, has been reproduced and installed in the pub. The bar offers a number of local microbrews as well as well-known beer brands. An outdoor beer garden welcomes visitors seasonally.

“If there is one part of Capt. Pabst’s legacy that we want guests to take away after their stay at the Brewhouse,” says Northard, “it’s that the Pabst Brewing Co. was an integral part of Milwaukee’s early history. Generations of Milwaukeeans worked and toured the brewery, and we intend to keep that history alive through some of the architectural elements that we have retained.”

Northard says the hotel plans to add some multimedia exhibits that will tell the story of the Pabst brewery through the words of people who spent their lives working there.

Of Hope and Heritage