Jeffers acquires downtown Journal Sentinel buildings

Planning adaptive reuse project

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J. Jeffers & Co. has acquired the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel buildings in downtown Milwaukee as part of plans for a historic rehabilitation project, the Milwaukee-based developer announced Thursday evening.

The sale price isn’t yet disclosed.

Josh Jeffers, president and CEO of Jeffers, said he hasn’t finalized definitive redevelopment plans for the buildings. He added the Journal Sentinel will occupy the buildings until its lease expires in late 2020, when the company will then move its operations to the 330 Kilbourn office towers.

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“All options are on the table,” Jeffers said in a news release, adding the buildings’ proximity to the Fiserv Forum and Bucks’ Deer District development area only increases the potential for a successful adaptive reuse.

The three buildings acquired are on the block bordered by North Vel R. Phillips Avenue on the west, West State Street to the north, Old World Third Street on the east and West Kilbourn Avenue to the south.

The Journal Sentinel buildings include a six-story, 256,400-square-foot building at 333 W. State St. and a four-story structure attached to the south, which totals 181,800 square feet, according to city assessment records. They have a total assessed value of nearly $11.86 million. The third building is the Major Goolsby’s sports bar located at 340 W. Kilbourn Ave. The tavern is roughly 6,500 square feet and is assessed at $1.2 million.

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Jeffers said he will work with the National Park Service, the city of Milwaukee and the historic-preservation community on crafting a master plan for the block. The area was recently designated as a local historic landmark by the city.

He said portions of the project could possibly receive historic and other tax credits.

Jeffers said the redevelopment of these buildings is “an especially challenging undertaking.” For instance, the floor plates for the main Journal Communications building are 56,000 square feet, which creates issues for getting light and air into the center of the building.

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“Some of what we have in these buildings contributes to their historic value, some of what we have does not contribute to their historic value, and some of what we have actually interferes with the historic value of these buildings,” he said in the release.

Jeffers & Co. has a track record of historic rehabilitation projects. This includes renovating the Mitchell Building and Mackie Building, both of which are located along the south side of East Michigan Street between North Water Street and North Broadway. Jeffers is also working with co-developer Tony Janowiec, president of Interstate Development Partners, on a $70 million renovation of the Milwaukee Athletic Club building at 758 N. Broadway.

The firm is also developing the Huron Building, a new 11-story office building going up at 511 N. Broadway.

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