Construction to begin this spring on $100 million ThriveOn King project

Former Gimbels-Schuster's building to become new HQ of ThriveOn Collaboration

The former Gimbels and Schuster’s Department Store building at the southwest corner of Garfield Avenue and King Drive is being redeveloped for the new home of the MCW/GMF partnership. Rendering: Engberg Anderson Architects
The former Gimbels and Schuster’s department store building at the southwest corner of Garfield Avenue and King Drive is being redeveloped into the ThriveOn King project. Rendering: Engberg Anderson Architects

Last updated on January 28th, 2021 at 01:42 pm

The former Gimbels-Schuster’s building on King Drive will now be known as ThriveOn King, announced the leaders of a $100 million project to turn it into a new mixed-use property.

Construction work is anticipated to begin this spring, and is slated for an opening of spring 2022.

Milwaukee-based Royal Capital Group, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Medical College of Wisconsin have partnered up to create the ThriveOn Collaboration, which aims to make Milwaukee a more equitable, healthy and thriving community for all.

A major component of that partnership involves the redevelopment of the old department store building at 2153 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Milwaukee’s Halyard Park neighborhood.

The 455,000-square-foot building will be turned into offices, early-childhood educational programming, health and wellness space and affordable apartments. A new roughly 300-stall parking structure will also be built on site.

The firms marked the pending start of construction during a virtual event on Tuesday afternoon, when they reintroduced the building as ThriveOn King.

“With the neighborhood engagement and partnership leadership from both the public and private sectors, I’m pleased that we are advancing a neighborhood development that is inclusive, and that will serve our collective aim toward continuing to advance thriving communities,” said Kevin Newell, president and chief executive of Royal Capital Group.

Royal Capital acquired the building in December for $9.24 million, according to state records. GMF has committed $10 million to the redevelopment project.

“Through the ThriveOn Collaboration, the expansion of community assets will be a primary goal,” said Greg Wesley, senior vice president of strategic alliances and business development for MCW. “ThriveOn King will house many of these within the first floor space of the building. It is thrilling to see the ongoing conversation and input of the community be developed and constructed in the building.”

The project’s location is significant for several reasons, according to the project team. For one, it sits between two streets named after iconic civil rights leaders.

“Building a ThriveOn Collaboration home between King Drive and Vel R. Phillips Avenue is a statement about our commitment and belief in our community, this community,” Ken Robertson, GMF executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, said.

The event took viewers on a video tour of the historic building, showing off the current state of its interior.

In the video, Tom Joy, architectural designer with Milwaukee-based Engberg Anderson Architects, pointed out a number of architectural features that will be restored.

The project team will restore historic window frames and glass at the old Third Street (now King Drive) entrance, which will allow more natural light to seep in.

The building also has two mezzanines, which could be used for various community programming. It is installing new elevators in two locations, but will preserve architectural elements in each.

The nearly floor-to-ceiling wood windows that nearly wrap the building will also be restored.

“This will be a community gem for many, many years to come,” Wesley said in the video.

ThriveOn Collaboration also announced it had awarded $30,000 in grants to support youth, employment training and community-based activities that encourage youth social connections, promote peace and build community cohesion in the participating neighborhoods.

Recipients include:

  • Jacarrie Kicks for Kids, a program helping young people ages 10-18 transition to adulthood through training in things like interview techniques, resume building and computer literacy.
  • Imagine MKE, which will engage youth in the Harambee and Brewers Hill neighborhoods to create graphic messages around safety.
  • Collier’s Training Institute, which works with youth to implement various neighborhood cleanups in Harambee.
  • WestCare Wisconsin Inc., which helps youth in Harambee participate in recreational activities that support emotional and physical health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Each group received $7,500 from ThriveOn.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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