Historic J.L. Burnham Building to be demolished

J.L. Burnham Building

Karl Kopp, owner of the downtown restaurant Elsa’s on the Park, has been issued an order to raze the 140-year-old J.L. Burnham Building in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood within 30 days.

J.L. Burnham Building
J.L. Burnham Building

Kopp planned to redevelop the building, at 100-106 E. Seeboth St., and was issued a certificate of appropriateness in June to renovate the building by the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission.

Through the process of preparing to renovate, it was discovered the deterioration of the interior walls was beyond what was previously anticipated, said Ron Roberts, manager of the city’s condemnation department.

Kopp was served an emergency raze order Monday and has 30 days to comply, Roberts said.

Roberts said there have been concerns about the stability of the building all along, and efforts were being made to stabilize the structure; however, floors have collapsed and interior walls were damaged.

The building is assessed at $420,600.

“One good thing out of this is an organization at MSOE is working on a project to renovate King Drive and they will be reclaiming some of the historic bricks,” Roberts said.

Kopp could not be reached for comment.

In 2013, Kopp planned to open a restaurant in the 11,430-square-foot, two-story building.  At the time, his plans included a 4,200-square-foot dining area and a 525-square-foot courtyard on the first floor, offices and a 725-square-foot conference room on the second floor and offices and storage space in the basement.

During the condo boom prior to the Great Recession, Kopp planned to tear down the old brick building and replace it with a new condo building. However, plans to tear down the building were opposed by the Historic Preservation Commission and that project never moved forward.

The raze order supersedes any jurisdiction the Historic Preservation Commission has on the property.

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