Developers line up to purchase Walker’s Point foundry
The rebirth of Milwaukee’s near south side is continuing as real estate developers are frothing at the prospects of transforming another industrial site into condominiums or retail uses.
Atchison Casting Corp. is selling its Kramer International foundry buildings in Walker’s Point, with a combined asking price of $1.75 million.
The buildings include:
— A 14,282-square-foot foundry at 114 E. Pittsburgh Ave., with an asking price of $900,000.
— A 9,375-square-foot building at 130 S. Ferry St., with an asking price of $600,000.
— A 5,892-square-foot building at 156 S. Ferry St., with an asking price of $250,000.
The buildings are being marketed by the Polacheck Co.’s Industrial Properties Group.
The Kramer properties may be sold in parcel or individually, according to Polacheck vice president Rand Wolf.
"We don’t want to sell the small one until we know what’s happening with the two larger properties," Wolf said. "The building at 156 S. Ferry St. will probably be knocked down, but the other buildings have more character."
The main foundry’s site, near the Menomonee River and South First Street, is prime real estate, as the momentum from the redevelopment of Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward has spilled south into Walker’s Point and Bay View, in an area historically known as the Fifth Ward, Wolf said.
"As you can imagine, we’ve had a number of offers for the buildings. We’re negotiating with one party now on an offer we’ve received in the last week," Wolf said. "It’s probably 50-50 as to whether they want to use the existing buildings or knock them down and start over."
The redevelopment of the Kramer International buildings will add to a cavalcade of real estate rebirth on the city’s south side:
— The nearby Waterfront Condominiums project, which is nearly completed on along the river.
— The recent acquisition of the former Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Gas Co. site at 311 E. Greenfield Ave., where a $1.5 billion development that could include 14 office towers is planned.
— The former Teweles Seed Co. towers at 222 S. Third St. are being redeveloped into an apartment complex.
— The former National Warehouse Corp. site at 435 S. Water St. has been purchased by investors who want to develop a hotel at the site.
— The former Reimer Photo Graphics site at 300 E. Bay St. in Bay View has been purchased by a business that plans to redevelop the building for mixed uses.
— The Hide House, a former tannery at 2625 S. Greeley St., is being redeveloped for businesses and art studio space in Bay View.
— The Red Car Gallery has opened at the corner of 1st and Walker streets.
"It’s phenomenal how much action there’s been in that part town. It’s amazing," Wolf said. "It’s jumped across the river, and it’s going wild. We’re getting a lot of inquiries."
The main Kramer International foundry site, which was built in 1910, has a total assessed value of $318,400, according to city records. However, that assessment is with an industrial zoning classification.
"When the industrial users find out what the prices are, they tend to go away," Wolf said.
The Milwaukee Department of City Development (DCD) has allowed other former industrial buildings in the neighborhood to be transformed into loft condominiums.
"Every project is judged on its individual merits, and we have yet to see plans on this site," said William Zaferos, special assistant at the DCD. "There’s been a housing boom downtown, and in many cases it’s been because buildings have been used in imaginative ways, particularly in the lofts and the warehouses.
"I really think that area is on the verge of exploding, if it hasn’t already, in development," Zaferos said. "People are rediscovering the city, and they seem to have found out all at once."
The Kramer International properties are being sold by Atchison Casting of Atchison, Kan., the former parent company of the firm.
Facing a financial crisis, Atchison sold its Kramer International division in January to Waukesha Foundry Co., which has now changed its name to Waukesha Kramer Inc.
May 30, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee