Best Place lawsuit settled out of court, Haertel plans new ballroom

An investors group led by Best Place owner Jim Haertel and another investors group that includes Wauwatosa accountant Daniel Glaser have reached an out of court settlement to a lawsuit that Glaser’s group filed against Haertel’s group.

“I can acknowledge that there is a settlement,” said Haertel said. “That’s all I can say at this time.”

With the lawsuit behind him, Haertel is working on plans to create a new ballroom in the Best Place complex, located within the former Pabst brewery in downtown Milwaukee.

The Haertel and Glaser groups were part of Brew City Redevelopment Group LLC, which owns the former Pabst gift shop, Blue Ribbon Hall and corporate office space of the former Pabst brewery. Brew City Redevelopment Group had negotiated with Cincinnati Restaurant Group to open a Hofbrauhaus brew pub and restaurant in the Pabst complex. But the deal fell through. Instead Brew City opened a new gift shopping mostly selling vintage Pabst items, a bar and leased Blue Ribbon Hall out for events. Brew City has also provided tours of its complex, which is just a small portion of the entire former brewery site. Glaser and his group were upset that the deal for the Hofbrauhaus project did not move forward and they sued Haertel’s group.

Glaser could not be reached for comment.

Haertel would not comment on the settlement, but said the settlement enables him to move forward with his next plan for the property. He wants to create a new ballroom in a 4,800-square-foot space in the office building portion of the complex, built in 1880, next to the former Capt. Frederick Pabst office.

Haertel said the 2,000-square-foot Blue Ribbon Hall is booked solid for weekends into November, and most of the events that are booked for the room are weddings. He already has 16 events booked for the room next year, most of them are weddings.

The idea of getting married in the historic Pabst brewery complex appeals to many couples, Haertel said.

“We are turning one or two brides a day away (because Blue Ribbon Hall is booked),” he said. “We’re very successful doing this.”

The former office space area where Haertel wants to create another ballroom needs extensive renovations. Preliminary plans include a stage on one end of the room and a bar on the other end. An adjacent conference room could be used for events, or it could be booked along with Capt. Pabst’s former office for smaller meetings.

Haertel said he is getting cost estimates for the work that needs to be done and will have an appraisal done on his entire property in its current condition and what it would be worth if the additional ballroom is added. If the additional ballroom adds significantly to the value of the property, Haertel said he believes he will be able to get financing for the project. He said he has a lender, which he would not name, that is showing strong interest in financing the project.

“They’ve made a commitment, subject to this appraisal,” he said.

The financing for the project could be in place in two months and the project could be complete in five to six months, Haertel said.

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