Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:33 pm
A downtown Milwaukee apartment project proposed by a group led by Milwaukee Bucks player Pat Connaughton can move forward after one final effort to protect an existing duplex from demolition was rejected by city officials.
New York-based developer Beach House LLC, of which Connaughton is the president, plans to deconstruct a 154-year-old duplex building at 1245-1247 N. Milwaukee St., and in its place put up a four-story, three-unit apartment complex.
That project was put on hold after local historic preservation advocate Dawn McCarthy filed a request to designate the building as historic.
A request for temporary historic designation — which is filed when a building is under immediate threat of demolition — was rejected last month by members of the Historic Preservation Commission.
McCarthy appealed that decision, which brought the request to the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the simultaneous request to grant the structure a permanent historic designation was heard again by the Historic Preservation Commission on Monday afternoon.
The permanent historic designation request was rejected again by commissioners after a lengthy discussion. McCarthy then withdrew her appeal for the temporary designation prior to the Council committee.
The move to designate the duplex as historic received the backing of Historic Preservation Commission staffers, the Historic Preservation Alliance and a number of residents.
They argued the building warranted protection because, among other reasons, it is one of the last remaining remnants of a historic neighborhood and that it had been the home of a number of notable residents.
Although the original architect is unknown, architect Theo F. Shutz appears to have made alterations to the roof in 1904 and converted it into a duplex in 1918.
“The significance of this site and structure is it is one of the last historic single-family residences in the downtown area,” the application from McCarthy states. “It shows the architecture of a period in Milwaukee of early residential architecture, which is heavily influenced by German immigrants.”
Connaughton said Monday that he and others with Beach House toured the duplex several times and determined it didn’t rise to the level of historic significance. The building also was in bad shape, and not many salvageable original historic features remained inside of it.
Even so, said Connaughton, Beach House hopes to deconstruct the building “with the extreme effort to preserve anything we can.”
The firm plans to hire a deconstruction contractor to carefully take apart the building and save whatever of the building materials it can. Connaughton added he plans to work closely with the city on the project to ensure whatever is constructed in its place is done “tastefully.”
Connaughton plans to live in one of the dwelling units once the building is complete.
This is one of two projects Beach House is actively pursuing in the city. It also recently filed plans for a new mixed-use building that would be constructed on the southwest corner of East Brady and North Marshall streets.
More may be on the way. Joe Stanton, Beach House director of project management, said recently that the firm is looking at other sites throughout the city.