Investment group to buy Mackie Building

An investment group led by developer Joshua Jeffers plans to purchase the historic Mackie Building at 225 E. Michigan St. in downtown Milwaukee.

The five-story, 55,000-square-foot mixed-use building was constructed in 1879. It is perhaps best known as the home of the Grain Exchange Room, a 10,000-square-foot, three-story event space operated by The Bartolotta Restaurant Group.

The building was last sold in 2011 to Rosemont, Ill.-based First Hospitality Group, which also bought the Loyalty Building across the street at 611 N. Broadway, and converted it into a Hilton Garden Inn hotel.

Jeffers’ group, 225 East Michigan Street LLC, is seeking a $1,246,000 loan from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. to help finance the purchase and renovation of the building. The group plans to purchase the building and a 114-space parking lot for $2.2 million and plans to spend $915,000 on the first phase of planned improvements to the building. Cornerstone Community Bank is providing the primary financing for the project.

“We mostly plan on keeping the building as it is (currently used),” Jeffers said.

The building has about 22,000 square feet of vacant office space, but the street level retail space is fully leased and the Grain Exchange Room provides an anchor for the building.

“We do think we can attract more tenants,” Jeffers said.

The Mackie Building is connected to the historic Mitchell Building at 207 E. Michigan St., which is also owned by Jeffers’ group. The Mitchell Building is 100 percent leased, Jeffers said. Combining the operations of the two buildings will create significant economies of scale, he said.

“Both buildings have a lot to offer, high ceilings, lots of light and historic details that make it stand out from other office spaces,” Jeffers said.

Jeffers said his group plans to make improvements to the Mackie Building that will be similar to improvements his group made to the Mitchell Building. Interior upgrades will preserve historic details while adding modern design features, he said.

His company J. Jeffers & Co. will develop and manage the Mackie Buildng. The architect for the restoration project will be Milwaukee-based Continuum Architects and the general contractor is slated to be Menomonee Falls-based Barthenheier Construction.

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