Mitchell Leather building in Third Ward to be converted to apartments and retail space

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:05 pm

An affiliate of Greenfield-based real estate development firm Ener-Con Companies Inc. purchased the 101-year-old Mitchell Leather Factory & Retail Store building in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward for $1.8 million, according to state records.

Ener-Con plans to convert the building into 12 luxury apartments and 7,000 square feet of first floor retail space. The basement will be converted into underground parking.

The four-story, 39,450-square-foot building, located at 226 N. Water St., has an assessed value of about $1.05 million, according to city records.

Mitchell Leather Factory & Retail Store was started by Jerry Mitchell in 1968. The business makes and sells custom-made leather products including briefcases, wallets and accessories.

Mitchell died in 2009 and his son, David, took over the business.

Mitchell Leather Factory & Retail Store will move to a 4,000-square-foot former post office building at 170 Green Bay Road in Thiensville, David Mitchell said.

The smaller building will be more efficient and more appropriate for the business, he said. It will still have a small showroom and store, but most of Mitchell’s sales are now done online.

“The vast majority of our business in online,” David Mitchell said. “We don’t need a big retail presence.”

The Third Ward store was somewhat of an impediment for the business because it attracted a lot of walk-in traffic that would interrupt production. Mitchell, his wife and his mother are the only employees for the business and they make the products.

Over the last few years the business has shifted its focus to briefcases and men’s accessories and has moved away from women’s products. It was too difficult for the business to keep up with rapid changes of women’s fashions, Mitchell said, so they opted to focus on a smaller product line.

The business will make the move to Thiensville in the next month. Mitchell said he is a little worried about the equipment, built more than 45 years ago, being damaged in the move.

“I’m going to carry my favorite sewing machine in my arms like a baby,” he said.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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