Hines purchases Third Ward site for 31-story apartment tower

Acquisition of Water Street site coincides with approval of $109 million construction loan for project

Houston-based HInes is planning a 31-story apartment tower at 333 N. Water St. (Rendering courtesy of Solomon Cordwell Buenz)

Last updated on September 12th, 2022 at 01:13 pm

Houston-based real estate development, investment and management firm Hines has purchased the Third Ward parking lot along the Milwaukee River where it plans to build a 31-story apartment tower.

Hines paid $6 million for the 0.8- acre lot at 333 N. Water Street in the Third Ward, purchasing it from Dehl Propertiies, LLC, an affiliate of Milwaukee-based Interstate Development, according to state records.

Hines purchased the land on the same day that the company closed on a $109 million construction loan for the project, said Tom D’Arcy, Hines senior managing director.

The purchase of the land for the Hines tower comes as the recently completed, 25-story mass-timber apartment tower, The Ascent at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave. is leasing up its 259 units, and as construction continues on The Couture, a 44-story apartment tower at 909 E. Michigan S. along the downtown lakefront.

Pile driving

Pile driving has already started for the 333-unit Hines building and is expected to continue through the end of November with the foundation being placed on top of those pilings, D’Arcy said. Vertical construction is expected to begin in earnest in the spring with completion expected in 2024.

A building and analysis form submitted for the project in July, puts the current planned height for the structure at 342 feet, with a total of 542,285 square feet that includes a 400-space parking garage. There will be no basement.

The building had originally been designed to be 32 stories high, but the firm opted to eliminate the 32nd floor and increase the square footage of the other floors to allow for the same number of apartments.

“We just made (the floors) slightly larger,” D’Arcy said. “By making them slightly larger over 20-odd floors you keep the same RSF (rentable square footage), so you are able to get the same income but build one less floor,” D’Arcy explained Wednesday.

In addition to the 333 apartments, plans show 11,750 square feet of ground-floor retail space across three separate units. They include 1,760 square feet in the northeast corner of the building, 4,870 square feet to the south along Water Street, and 5,120 square feet largely facing the RiverWalk.

The lead construction contractor on the project is Chicago-based W.E. O’Neil.

RiverWalk improvements

The project is expected to receive $903,000 in tax incremental finance assistance from the city for a 210-linear foot RiverWalk connection project.

The money would fund the construction of a public access connection to the existing RiverWalk from the corner of St. Paul Avenue and Water Street. It will also pay for the construction of a dock wall replacement that will support the entire project, including the RiverWalk connection and existing RiverWalk.

Devon Patterson, principal of project architect Solomon Cordwell Buenz of Chicago, noted in August 2020 that the tower would be “pulled back” from the northern and western edges of the property to enhance the experience for RiverWalk users and retail customers.

There will also be open public space between the RiverWalk and the tower. This will provide spill-out dining areas for restaurant or café tenants, developers said.

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Cara covers commercial and residential real estate. She has an extensive background in local government reporting and hopes to use her experience writing about both urban and rural redevelopment to better inform readers. Cara lives in Waukesha with her husband, a teenager, a toddler, a dog named Neutron, a bird named Potter, and a lizard named Peyoye. She loves music, food, and comedy, but not necessarily in that order.

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