Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:51 pm
Milwaukee developer Josh Jeffers is planning a major redevelopment project at the former Horlick Malted Milk Co. campus in Racine.
Jeffers, president of J. Jeffers & Co., purchased three buildings Tuesday at 2100 and 2200 Northwestern Avenue for a combined 246,000 square feet plus an additional 8 acres of vacant land for $410,000.
The buildings were constructed in 1882 and 1902 in the Gothic Revival Style, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society, making them a perfect fit for the developer who specializes in historic preservation projects.
They are also the gateway to the 13-building site encompassing the Horlick Industrial Historic District.
“When I look at the Horlick complex, it is very reminiscent of the Pabst Brewery complex in Milwaukee circa 2005,” Jeffers said. “There are a lot of vacant buildings, cobblestone streets, grass growing, interconnected structures. It feels like a bit of a ghost town, but there used to be so much life there. I see an opportunity to bring it all back.”
Jeffers is planning to work on the project in multiple phases, with the first phase being 80 to 90 predominantly affordable housing units in one of the existing buildings.
Over the next 10 years, Jeffers envisions up to 400 units of affordable and market rate apartments, including new construction on the vacant land and mixed-use development in what could become a $100 million catalytic project for the city of Racine.
“This is located in a great part of Racine,” Jeffers said, adding that it is less than three miles from Foxconn’s massive manufacturing development in Mount Pleasant.
The former Horlick site has been eyed for development before. In 2005, developers Joseph Mrazek and Frank Rosselli announced a redevelopment project at the site that included gutting the three buildings Jeffers purchased and redeveloping the space for offices, apartments, light industrial and possibly retail. When the Great Recession hit, Mrazek and Rosselli lost several of their properties in foreclosure and their plan for the Horlick property was stalled.
Jeffers purchased the properties from Nelson-Horlick LLC.
Jeffers found out about the Horlick Industrial Historic District from Amy Connolly, director of Racine’s Department of City Development, who had worked with him on another Racine project.
Jeffers is also planning to convert former Gold Medal Furniture Co. building in Racine’s Uptown neighborhood into a 79-unit apartment building.
He said he will apply for affordable housing tax credits through WHEDA for the Gold Medal project and phase one of the Horlick project in December. If approved, both projects will start in spring of 2019.
“I have been meeting with Racine for the last couple of months and they have been a fantastic partner so far,” Jeffers said, adding that he has just started looking at how to finance the project.
“There are a whole host of federal, state and local incentives out there and we will evaluate the whole thing,” he said. “With the Garfield/Griot project (in Milwaukee) we had 13 sources of financing.”