Hangin’ on to the past? Gipfel Union brewery building, commentary

Or does it represent an impediment to redevelopment?
All but the purist preservationists have to wonder about the insistence among city officials to save the decrepit Gipfel Union Brewery building in downtown Milwaukee.
The building has been an eyesore in downtown Milwaukee for years.
Now, with engineers saying the building is facing imminent collapse, it’s fostered another bother: city officials have blocked two of the four lanes on the busy stretch of Juneau Avenue fronting the property.
City officials say the structure, built in 1853 and now the oldest brewery building in the city, should be saved, not only for its significance to the city’s brewing history, but also because of its rare federal-style architecture – a plain style which offers few distinguishing characteristics.
The building owner and city government forces have been battling over the future of the property. The owner wanted to tear it down; the city wants it preserved.
A prospective savior has emerged who says he’ll determine whether it makes economic sense to buy the property and make a brewpub.
But one look at the building makes the passerby wonder what all the preservation fuss is about.
If razed, it’s not likely the community would lament its passing the way it did the loss of the North Western railroad depot. Few would notice.

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