New Land Enterprises now owns the former Buca di Beppo restaurant property near downtown Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee-based multi-family developer plans to build a development with 251 apartment units at the site, located at 1237 N. Van Buren St.
According to state records, New Land affiliate NOVA LLC bought the site for $2.1 million from Kosmos Metro LLC, an investors group led by Mo's Restaurants owner John "Johnny V" Vassallo.
The investors group originally acquired the property in October for $2.1 million. Vassallo said the sale to New Land closed on Thursday.
New Land plans to construct a nine-story, L-shaped apartment building called Nova. It would include 251 rental units, eight townhouses with private entrances along Van Buren Street, a 300-stall parking structure and an outdoor pool deck atop the parking structure.
The firm is aiming to open the building to tenants in spring 2023.
Vassallo said he acquired the property to pursue an apartment project there if New Land wasn't able to follow through on its plans. He said he enjoyed working with New Land and its managing director, Tim Gokhman, on the transaction.
"I think they will be extremely successful in their venture there," Vassallo said. "I think they’re going to do a nice job."
Gokhman said in an email that New Land is preparing for site prep and demolition work at the site, with construction expected to begin in July. It is also working on finalizing the project loan and sourcing equity.
He also noted the Nova site is in an opportunity zone, opening it up to potential tax incentives for investors.
New Land is staying busy developing Milwaukee apartment buildings. Construction is moving forward on Element, a 66-unit apartment complex in Walker's Point. Construction kicked off last summer on Ascent, a 25-story, 259-unit mass timber building downtown.
Vassallo, meanwhile, said his group is looking for other development sites around downtown Milwaukee suitable for apartments.
He said the market is good for more multi-family residential development, and predicted the COVID-19 pandemic will create greater demand in the future for apartments due to the flexible living arrangement rental units provide.
"For the flexibility, I think people are going to rent more," he said. "If I’m right, we could use 50% more apartments in the area."