Apartment complex geared for people without cars planned for East Side

Developer sees project as catalyst for future growth along western portion of East Side

A 53-unit, apartment building development planned for East North Avenue, between Cambridge Avenue and Newhall Street, is designed to draw young professionals who don’t need a car to sustain their lifestyle. (Rendering courtesy of Engberg Anderson Architects)
A 53-unit, apartment building development planned for East North Avenue, between Cambridge Avenue and Newhall Street, is designed to draw young professionals who don’t need a car to sustain their lifestyle. (Rendering courtesy of Engberg Anderson Architects)

Last updated on April 22nd, 2022 at 10:46 am

A 53-unit, mixed use apartment complex planned for the East North Avenue, between Cambridge Avenue and Newhall Street on Milwaukee’s East Side, is expected to draw young professionals who don’t need a car to sustain their lifestyle, said co-developer, and local real estate agent Shar Borg.

Geared toward Milwaukeeans without cars, the development is slated to have less than 40 parking spots dedicated to tenants, in favor of a large indoor storage area for bikes. There would be about 18 spots onsite – 10 outdoor stalls adjacent to the building and eight indoor stalls on the first floor – and another 20 spots at a nearby location.

The building owners will also provide two battery-powered Teslas that tenants will be able rent for short trips.

The idea, Borg said, is to forgo the cost of creating an underground parking area for the four-story development, which would have cost $50,000 per stall, in favor or more affordable rents. Rents for the building’s mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments are expected to be around $1,000, developers said.

“Where can you find that on the East Side or in Riverwest?” remarked Borg, who is developing the project with Ryan Pattee of the Pattee group, and other partners.

“It is not an affordable housing project, but we wanted it to be something that is affordable in a location that people really want to be in,” Borg added. “It is not geared specifically toward students, but young professionals, or people who don’t need a whole lot of space, but that want to be in a good location and use public transit and bike.”

The project also includes 8,700 square-feet of ground-floor retail space slated to be occupied by a financial institution and a restaurant.

Although the two tenants have not been named, Borg said the financial institution is one that is “growing its presence in Milwaukee and has a particular interest in tapping into the UW-Milwaukee customer base.” As for the restaurant, she said developers are in talks with a number of local restaurateurs.

An opportunity

For Borg, developing the somewhat blighted block was an opportunity she said she couldn’t miss and one that came to her and Patee almost by a stroke of luck. Borg said Pattee called a few months back when he noticed that the building at 1504 E. North Ave., at the northeast corner of Cambridge Avenue and East North Avenue was in foreclosure. The building had been home to the now-shuttered Buddha Lounge.

“Ryan is always looking for good opportunities, and he reached out to me to see if I knew anybody who might be interested in buying it,” said Borg, who works for Compass as a real estate agent.

But when Borg did a drive-by of the property, she saw the building – and the aging, vacant office building that sat adjacent to the property at 1518 E. North Ave. – and realized: “Someone is going to want to develop this whole block.”

Pattee noted that Mandel Group, which developed the nearby Cambridge Commons for UW-Milwaukee owned the property at 1518 E. North Ave., and after a conversation with some mentors the pair hatched a plan to acquire the property at 1504 E. North Ave. in hopes of developing the whole block.

“One of our partners, who really is a mentor and investor, said you guys should buy (1504) and hold on to it and see if you can put together the whole block, because if you put together the whole block that makes it developable,” Borg said. “So, we put together our money and we bought that property, and then we knew the owner of 1530 E. North Ave. was open to selling, so we reached out and put an offer on that space, and then we had both of the corner buildings. Then, we just knew we should reach out to Mandel and get their property too. They are selling us 1518 E. North Ave. It will be closing in a couple of months.”

For Borg, who is realizing a goal of becoming a developer with the project, changing the face of such an underused block should bolster development in the area.

“I have never understood why that spot wasn’t developed. I have always wanted to develop, and when Ryan brought this opportunity for the (former) Buddha lounge, I thought this is our opportunity,” she said. “We really do feel that this will be catalytic for other development on that western most portion of the East Side. It really is sort of the gateway to East Side and it’s been vacant and dilapidated for so long.”

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Cara covers commercial and residential real estate. She has an extensive background in local government reporting and hopes to use her experience writing about both urban and rural redevelopment to better inform readers. Cara lives in Waukesha with her husband, a teenager, a toddler, a dog named Neutron, a bird named Potter, and a lizard named Peyoye. She loves music, food, and comedy, but not necessarily in that order.

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