Milwaukee County

    The global recession has crippled many proposed large real estate development projects. Tight credit markets have made it difficult to obtain construction loans, the soft real estate market has hurt the demand side for many projects.

    Despite those major economic challenges facing the real estate industry, construction is expected to begin this year on at least one new high-rise building in Milwaukee.

    Saint John’s on the Lake, a retirement community, plans to break ground this year on a $50 million, 21-story expansion at 1840 N. Prospect Ave., on Milwaukee’s east side.

    The building will have 88 residences, and so far, Saint John’s has 75 percent of those units reserved, said Rick Romano, director of marketing.

    But even with such a high number of reservations, Saint John’s has still not obtained all of the financing it needs for the project, which is a reflection of the difficulties developers are facing in obtaining financing during this credit crunch. Still, Romano said the project has commitments for more than half of the financing that it needs.

    “We have a portion of the financing committed,” Romano said. “We’re moving ahead. We’re negotiating with several other sources. We’re confident it’s all coming together. We’re closing in.”

    Romano said the project will “absolutely” break ground in 2009.

    “Our goal is to start this before the end of the spring,” he said.

    Residents in the building must be at least 62 years old. Saint John’s provides a continuum of care so residents move into an independent living environment can transition, as they age, to assisted living and then skilled nursing care, without having to move to another facility.

    In addition to the 88 residences, the new 21-story building will have a town center on the first floor with a restaurant, art gallery, multi-purpose community room, library and an aquatic center.

    Other high-rise developments are still in the works in Milwaukee, despite the recession.

    The developers for The Moderne, a 31-story, $75 million building with 33 condos and 154 apartments, are hoping to break ground this year on the project, which would be built southwest of Old World Third Street and Juneau Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. So far, 13 of the condos in The Moderne have been reserved, and the project has obtained about $5 million in equity financing.

    Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp is examining the possibility of redeveloping the 900-space parking structure located to the south of its 42-story office tower in downtown Milwaukee. U.S. Bank hired Brookfield-based Hammes Co. to help create a redevelopment plan for the parking structure site. U.S. Bancorp wants to put the property to the “highest and best use” and hopes to begin work on the project this year, said U.S. Bancorp vice president Joe Ullrich.

    Milwaukee-based New Land Enterprises LLP is working on The Transera, a 26-story, 35-unit condo tower that it plans to build behind the Goll Mansion at 1550 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee. The project will probably break ground in 2010, said New Land owner Boris Gokhman.

    New Land is also working on plans for an apartment building at the northeast corner of Kilbourn and Van Buren avenues in downtown Milwaukee. The design for the project is still being finalized, Gokhman said. The city’s zoning for the site would allow a 20-story building with up to 230 units.

    While Milwaukee County continues to struggle to attract development to its land in downtown Milwaukee’s Park East corridor, several other developments are progressing in that area.

    Construction is continuing on the first phase of Mandel Group Inc.‘s North End development on the Milwaukee River site former occupied by a Pfister & Vogel plant. The $175 million development of condominiums, apartments and retail space will have a total of 483 residences and 25,000 square feet of retail space when it is completed. The complete build-out could take several years, however.

    Zilber Ltd. founder Joseph Zilber’s project to redevelop the 20-acre former Pabst brewery comlex into a mixed-use urban neighborhood is also making progress. Recently the first office tenants moved into the former Boiler House building at 1243 N. 10th St., and residents moved into apartments in the former Keg House building, now called Blue Ribbon Lofts.

    Three new hotels are under construction in downtown Milwaukee.

    Milwaukee River Hotel LLC is building a five-story, 160-room Aloft hotel northeast of Old World Third Street and West Juneau Avenue along the Milwaukee River. The hotel is expected to open in 2010. Aloft is a brand of White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

    Five blocks north of the Park East corridor, investors Karl Rajani and Pat Kasthurirangaian are renovating the former Jackson Center nursing home, at 1840 N. Sixth St., transforming it into a 79-room Days Inn & Suites hotel. The hotel is expected to open in September.

    Construction will be completed this year for a 14-story building at the southeast corner of Water Street and Juneau Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. The building will have a 126-room Staybridge Suites hotel, 27 apartments and 12,000 square feet of first floor retail space.

    A Staybridge Suites hotel is also under construction in Franklin at the southwest corner of Ryan Road and South 27th Street.

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