Painting a new future

    Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

    A former paint factory built in the 1920s at 2156 S. Fourth St. between Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward and the Bay View neighborhood is being redeveloped as a new business center.
    The four-story, 30,000-square-foot building was purchased about 18 months ago by Daniel Druml, president of Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling, which has its offices about one block north of the site.
    The firm specializes in repairing smoke, fire and water damage, as well as commercial remodeling. The company is in the midst of remodeling the former paint plant.
    Although the building was in rough condition, largely due to its light industrial use for many years, Druml sees value in developing office space there.
    "We see a real opportunity in this neighborhood," Druml said. "There’s a lot of revitalization in the area, and we know it will continue to improve. The building lines itself with what is happening in Bay View and the Third Ward, from the river and Water Street to the Summerfest Grounds. We see the same thing happening from the freeway all the way east to the Summerfest Grounds."
    David Ferron, operations manager for Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling, is overseeing the renovations. Ferron said the building is being developed mainly for office space, particularly for high-tech companies, although it will also be available for light industrial uses.
    "Our plan is an upgrading of the level of the space to have more high-end clients," Ferron said. "We’ve talked to a few architectural firms. This will be more of an office use, as opposed to an industrial use before."
    Ferron said the building’s condition might have been seen as a detriment by some developers.
    "We specialize in buildings that are very distressed," Ferron said. "What will scare others off usually attracts us, especially if we see a building that is structurally in good shape and one that is potentially aesthetically pleasing."
    Over the past 18 months, utilities such as telephone and electric services have been upgraded at the site, including the installation of high-speed Internet access, and many of building’s windows have been replaced, including those on the entire west side of the building. The parking lot has been paved, and extensive work has been done to the rear of the property, which abuts the Kinnickinnic River.
    An existing freight elevator has been improved, and bricks covered with many layers of paint have been sandblasted. Steel beams that have been covered with new coats of paint. Existing hardwood floors on the third and fourth floors, which were covered with more than an inch of paint, have been sanded and are nearing their final finish.
    While work continues in the first three floors of the building, most of the fourth floor is occupied by CCI Corp., a software consulting and support firm; Maid Brigade, a cleaning company; and a wood shop that specializes in custom wood finishing; along with several other small companies.
    Druml said he is hoping to have renovations completed by the end of 2005.
    The project still needs an elevator installed, an entryway developed, security cameras mounted and the roof replaced, Ferron said.
    Druml declined to disclose the purchase price of the building or the amount he will be reinvesting in the improvements.
    Windows on the building’s east, west and south sides have already been replaced, and its north windows should be replaced in coming months.
    A billboard, supported by a large pole in the building’s parking lot, will be relocated to the roof in April, Ferron said, giving the structure better views from its northern windows and crating better visibility from nearby Interstate 43.
    "That will make a huge difference in appearance to the building, both inside and outside," Ferron said.
    Druml said the building should be attractive to small businesses and some new companies because its rents are, on average, 25 to 50 percent cheaper than comparable existing spaces in the Third Ward.
    "Some people are getting driven out of the high-rent areas," Druml said. "The owners and developers are forced to require some significant rent increases. We haven’t seen that yet on this edge here, and we can pass some of those savings on to our tenants."
    March, 4, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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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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