Clock is Ticking on Zilber’s Option for Pabst Site

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

The derailed plan to redevelop the former Pabst brewery in downtown Milwaukee was the biggest commercial real estate story in southeastern Wisconsin of 2005, and the new plan to redevelop the 24-acre site will be one of the biggest commercial real estate stories for the area in 2006. Last year, the Milwaukee Common Council voted against providing $41 million in city assistance for the $317 million plan by Wispark LLC and Cleveland-based Ferchill Group to convert the crumbling former brewery site into a mixed use development with stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, housing and office space.

A few months later, Zilber Ltd. of Milwaukee signed an option to purchase the brewery property. Zilber has until mid-March to decide if it wants to go ahead with the purchase. If it does, Zilber plans to redevelop the brewery into a mixed-use neighborhood with housing, office space and retail space.

The commercial real estate and construction industries in the metro Milwaukee area are eagerly awaiting Zilber’s detailed plans for the brewery site.

"We’re still working on plans," said Michael Mervis, assistant to Zilber Ltd. chairman Joseph Zilber. "We’re talking to every possible source to provide us with advice, counsel and opportunity to make the project work. This is a very complex project."

Zilber created a Web site ( to solicit ideas from the public for the Pabst redevelopment. The company has received more than 400 suggestions, Mervis said.

If the company exercises its option to acquire the property, construction could begin late this year, but more likely in 2007, Mervis said.

At about $300 milllion, the expansion of Bayshore Mall in Glendale into Bayshore Town Center is just as significant as the Pabst redevelopment. The Bayshore project, which is being done by Columbus, Ohio-based Steiner + Associates, is scheduled to be completed in November. Bayshore Town Center will have 1.2 million square feet of retail space (up from the current 500,000 square feet), 180,000 square feet of office space, 80 condominiums and 120 upscale apartments.

Steiner is expected to soon announce who some of the tenants will be in Bayshore Town Center. Some of the mall’s tenants, including Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Foot Locker, The Gap, Gymboree, Ritz Photo, Victoria’s Secret, Williams-Sonoma and Alterra, remain open during the construction project. Those tenants are in negotiations to be part of Bayshore Town Center when the project is completed. Some tenants that left the mall during the construction project, including Barnes and Noble and Abercrombie & Fitch, may return after the project is completed.

Meanwhile, a major office development that could begin this year is the new corporate headquarters for Manpower Inc. If a $25 million financing package is approved by the Milwaukee Common Council, construction will begin this year on the 280,000-square-foot office building for Manpower near Schlitz Park. (See additional coverage on page 10 and page 39.)

In addition to the Pabst site, Bayshore Town Center and the proposed new Manpower headquarters, several other major developments will be started or completed this year in southeastern Wisconsin, including:

  • GE Healthcare will move into its $89 million, 506,000-square-foot office complex, development by Wauwatosa-based Irgens Development Partners, in the Milwaukee County Research Park. About 2,100 employees will work there.
  • The $59 million Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin project is expected to be completed this year. It will be a 120,000-square-foot interactive science and Great Lakes freshwater museum located just south of the Milwaukee Art Museum on the Lake Michigan shore.
  • Robert Lang will open Erin Hills this year. The world class golf course is being built on 560 acres near Holy Hill in the Town of Erin. Lang hopes to someday convince the United States Golf Association to hold the U.S. Open at the course. The USGA has already awarded the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship tournament to the course.
  • Kendall Breunig, the owner of Sunset Investors, is working on a $35 million redevelopment project for the 265,000-square-foot former Hack Furniture building located at the southwest corner of North Plankinton Avenue and East St. Paul Street in downtown Milwaukee. Breunig hopes to create 100,000 to 120,000 square feet of commercial space and 83 residential units in the building. The plans include 40,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor, 68,000 square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet that could be used for residential or office space. He also plans to build a 275-vehicle parking garage on the west side of the building. "It has a nice architectural quality to it," Breunig said. "I believe structurally it’s sound. Ninety percent of the building has been a warehouse its entire life, so I don’t have a lot of demolition to do. It needs a lot of masonry tuck-pointing, but the roof is in good condition."
  • Work is expected to begin this year on the Harley-Davidson Museum. The 110,000-square-foot museum will be built on a 20-acre site in the Menomonee Valley.
  • Construction is expected to begin this year on a 199-room Embassy Suites hotel that will be developed in the Milwaukee County Research Park in Wauwatosa. The developer for the project is New Berlin-based Kaloti Enterprises Inc. The hotel is expected to open in 2007.
  • Oshkosh-based WHG Companies LLC plans to build a four-story, 120-room Comfort Suites hotel on a two acre site at 10831 W. Park Place Dr. on Milwaukee’s far northwest side.
  • Several big-box retail stores are planned for the suburbs. Sidney, Neb.-based Cabela’s Inc. plans to build a 165,000-square-foot outdoor gear store on a 60-acre site at U.S. Highways 41 and 45 in the Town of Richfield. Wal-Mart has Supercenter stores in various stages of development in Germantown, Hartford, Sheboygan and Kenosha. Costco Wholesale Corp. plans to build its first Wisconsin store northwest of I-43 and Highway 60 in Grafton. Construction is expected to begin this year and be completed in 2007.
  • Marcus Theatres is building a new, 17-screen multi-plex cinema in the Town of Brookfield, which will replace two existing theaters nearby.
  • A major real estate development could be announced soon for Kenosha County. Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott Laboratories Inc. has purchased about 400 acres of farmland northwest of I-94 and Highway 165 in Pleasant Prairie. So far, the company has declined to comment on the land purchase, but an announcement could be made sometime this year.

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