Milwaukee-based developer New Land Enterprises
recently celebrated the topping off of the Ascent project in downtown Milwaukee, and said the mass timber apartment building is drawing "unprecedented" interest from prospective tenants.
Ascent is a 25-story building under construction at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave. When completed, it will stand 284 feet tall and contain 259 apartments. New Land announced that general contractor, Fond du Lac-based C.D. Smith Construction, had placed the final mass timber beams, columns and cross-laminated timber roof.
Ascent is slated to open next summer New Land noted it is accepting reservations ahead of the opening date.
The company already has 26 reservations, a number that is "unprecedented for this stage of development" for New Land, said spokesperson Jodi Hogerton. Normally, the developer would have a fraction of that in comparison.
Hogerton said in an email that two-thirds of reservations are for upper floors, specifically floors 18-24. This includes three penthouses.
Prospective renters are a mix of current downtown dwellers and those who reside elsewhere. Hogerton said Ascent has seen some interest from out-of-state renters.
To be sure, Ascent is unlike other projects New Land has developed in the past. It has drawn national attention on its way to becoming the tallest hybrid mass timber tower in the world. The building method is more widely adopted elsewhere, such as Europe. But the U.S. has not seen the building method used on a similar scale.
“I don’t think we anticipated this level of attention,” Tim Gokhman, managing director of New Land, said in a recent interview. “We knew it would be newsworthy, but this is a little bit more of a grander scale than we anticipated.”
Gokhman's comments came as part of New Land recently being named as BizTimes Milwaukee's 2021 Small Business of the Year
, as part of its annual Best in Business
According to New Land, Ascent's construction has so far involved more than 13,000 man hours for timber installation. Crews have used 335,554 square feet of CLT panels, 1,149 columns, 1,365 beams, 645,000 fasteners and 122,000 screws.
The construction process used prefabricated columns and beams along with factory integrated connectors. This is making the construction process about 25% faster.
“With an exceptional crew, we made the picks, screwed thousands of wrist-wrenching screws, nailed timber nails all day long and waterproofed to protect the product,” Bob Casper, site superintendent with C.D. Smith, said in a statement.
The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services is now looking to Ascent while updating its commercial building code
in hopes of making the code friendlier to mass timber.
“I actually think it’s less important that we’re setting a world record and more important that we’re serving as proof of concept that tall timber works,” Gokhman said.