Big things on tap for Third Ward

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The Historic Third Ward is already one of Milwaukee’s best neighborhoods. But now several major developments are on tap that could take the city’s warehouse district to the next level.

Two major developments are expected to break ground by the end of the year in the Third Ward.

San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Resorts announced recently that construction will begin by the end of the year on the 158-room boutique hotel it will open at the northeast corner of Broadway and Chicago Street. The developer for the Kimpton hotel project is HKS Holdings LLC and the design firm is Kahler Slater. The hotel is expected to open in 2016.

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The brand for the hotel has not been announced yet. But Kimpton says it will have a “destination” restaurant on the ground floor and an “expansive” rooftop bar and lounge area.

Despite the presence of the Summerfest grounds, several businesses and a growing population of affluent residents, the Third Ward does not have a hotel.

Future Dohmen HQ

“(The Kimpton hotel project is) just what the neighborhood needed,” said developer Robert Joseph, who has done numerous projects in the Third Ward. “I’m really excited about it.”

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The hotel project will bring more visitors to the neighborhood, more jobs and will provide an added neighborhood amenity, said Ron San Felippo, chairman of the Third Ward’s business improvement district.

MIAD apartment building

“It will bring a quality hotel, which we haven’t had,” he said. “It adds to the texture and the fabric of The Ward continuing to become a full neighborhood where people live, work and play.”

The other major project that could break ground by the end of the year in the Third Ward is Mandel Group Inc.’s long planned DoMUS development. The six-story, 132-unit apartment building will be built on a vacant site along the Milwaukee River, south of Erie Street.

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Chicago Street Lofts office space

“We are currently reviewing financing proposals for it,” said Mandel Group Chief Operating Officer Robert Monnat. “We are well under way on construction drawings. We want to be in the ground by the end of the year.”

DoMUS will have market-rate apartments with rents that will range from $1,400 to $3,500.

Along the street the building will have a boutique retail space with less than 2,000 square feet and a fitness center targeted toward serious athletes that are involved in competitive athletics or use higher-end equipment.

Three other significant development projects in the Third Ward either have been completed this year or will be by the end of the year.

Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the year for the new corporate headquarters for Dohmen. The company is renovating the 42,141-square-foot building at 417 E. Chicago St., which it bought last year for $10 million, well above its assessed value of $3.7 million. Once the renovation project is complete, the building will have a new address of 190 N. Milwaukee St.

Dohmen will move its headquarters to the building from Menomonee Falls and will initially have about 160 employees in the building. The building will be the headquarters of Dohmen Life Science Services and will house several of Dohmen’s other companies, including PlanIt, Clinical Path Consulting and Red Arrow Labs.

The move to the Third Ward is a return to the roots of Dohmen, which started in the neighborhood 156 years ago. It also enables Dohmen to consolidate several offices in the area.

“We’ve spent the last few years building a new service offering for the life sciences by combining existing capability with acquired capability,” said Dohmen CEO Cynthia LaConte. “2014 is our launch year for introducing this new company – Dohmen Life Science Services. I can’t think of a more fitting time to bring our Milwaukee-based organization together in this beautiful new facility. It’s only a few blocks away from where Dohmen was founded in 1858, so it both honors our past and celebrates our future as a 156-year-old start-up.”

Recently the company has been holding “Third Ward Thursday” events to help employees get familiar with the restaurants, stores and other features of the neighborhood, said spokeswoman Carole Pfeil.

“It’s been a very positive experience,” she said. “It has helped get our employees more comfortable about the neighborhood and excited about the move.”

Dohmen Life Science Services has operations around the United States, including Memphis, St. Louis, Denver, San Francisco and Ontario, Calif. and Dohmen owns a company called ChemWare in Raleigh, N.C. Dohmen plans to take advantage of the Kimpton hotel in the Third Ward to put up visiting employees and clients.

“We’re going to need a good place for them to stay,” Pfeil said.

Another major addition to the Third Ward this year is the recently completed student apartment building at 252 E. Menomonee St., which was developed by Fox Point-based General Capital Group for the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. There is room for about 300 students to live in the six-story building.

Previously, MIAD student housing was available three miles away in The Park at 1824 on the city’s East Side. Before that, MIAD had student housing for up to 180 in the former Eisner Museum of Advertising & Design building. However, that was “substandard” space, said MIAD President Neal Hoffman. The new student apartment building, which also has an art supply store in the ground floor, is a big upgrade for the school, he said.

“It’s really part of the campus now,” Hoffman said. “It’s right across the street. The living and learning will be more integrated.”

Each of these significant developments adds to the Third Ward’s already strong momentum and helps to build more interest in the neighborhood, Joseph said.

“Every one of these projects fills a hole and adds credibility to the area,” he said.

In May, Joseph completed a redevelopment project for the 119-year-old former Eisner Museum building at 200 N. Water St./222 E. Chicago St. Re-named Chicago Street Lofts, the building now has 30 market rate apartments, with rents ranging from $900 to $2,000, that Joseph said “leased up very quickly.”

However, the building also has 18,000 square feet of office space that remains vacant.

“I have a spectacular office space,” Joseph said. “It is the coolest office space I’ve ever been a part of.”

The two-story office space features heavy exposed wood timbers, a large amount of natural light, a 100-seat theater and a private elevator from underground parking that Joseph added in the basement.

Other developments announced or completed this year in the Third Ward include:

  • Summerfest plans to spend up to $5.1 million to convert its operations building at 639 E. Polk St. into a 15,000-square-foot administrative office headquarters building.
  • Associated Bank recently announced plans to open a branch at 102 N. Water St. in the Third Ward.
  • Gardner Denver Inc. moved its corporate headquarters this year from the Philadelphia area to a Third Ward office building at 222 E. Erie St.
  • Colectivo Coffee Roasters opened a Third Ward café at 225 E. St. Paul Ave., across the street from the Milwaukee Public Market, earlier this year.
  • Pieper Properties converted part of the Mayer Building, located at the southeast corner of St. Paul Avenue and Water Street, from commercial space into residential apartments. There will be 15 apartment units in the building ready for occupancy on Oct. 1. In addition, Regus plans to open a 12,500-square-foot business center in the building.
  • Clear Water Outdoor, an outdoor clothing and gear store that also offers kayak, cross country ski and snowshoe rentals and lessons, plans to open a Third Ward store in a 5,751-square-foot space at 250 N. Water St. The space was formerly occupied by Cranston, an upscale home décor and accessories store that closed recently.
  • Joe and Angie Sorge opened Holey Moley Coffee and Doughnuts at 316 N. Milwaukee St. earlier this year.
  • NL Suits opened a store at 241 N. Broadway earlier this year.

“(The Third Ward) is really continuing to grow at an accelerated rate,” Joseph said.

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