Pat Connaughton’s downtown apartment plan hits historic designation snag

1865 building would be razed to make way for four-story apartment building

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Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Pat Connaughton’s plans to build a new apartment building downtown are on hold while the city considers a historic designation request for a duplex that was slated for demolition to make way for the development.

Earlier this month, New York-based Beach House LLC filed plans with the city to raze the building at 1245-1247 N. Milwaukee St. and in its place construct a four-story apartment complex. Connaughton is president of the development firm.

However, the raze permit was put on hold by the Department of Neighborhood Services after the city received an application to temporarily designate the building as historic. It was filed by Dawn McCarthy, immediate past president of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance. McCarthy said in an interview she personally filed the application, and not on behalf of the preservation alliance.

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According to the application, the house was constructed around 1865. Its original architect is unknown, but architect Theo F. Schutz appears to have made alterations to the roof in 1904 and then 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 states. “It shows the architecture of a period in Milwaukee of early residential architecture, which is heavily influenced by German immigrants.”

Schutz was a prominent Milwaukee architect of both residential and commercial buildings, with his most notable work being the German Revival-style Hambach & Hellman Meat Store, according to the application. The store was built at 1024 E. Brady St., and eventually became part of Glorioso’s.

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Tim Askin, senior planner for the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, said the history outlined in the application has been verified by the commission.

Joseph Stanton, director of project management with Beach House, said the group still plans to demolish the building if it isn’t designated as historic. Even so, he added, his firm is sensitive to such issues.

“Beach House LLC has always been very sensitive to historic preservation and our company has a long-standing history of that,” Stanton said.

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Drawings of the proposed apartment building at 1245 N. Milwaukee St. (Credit: Patera LLC)
Drawings of the proposed apartment building at 1245 N. Milwaukee St. (Credit: Patera LLC)

Askin said an application for temporary designation is filed in cases when a building is under threat of demolition. He said a permit for permanent historic designation was also filed at the same time.

Askin said city ordinance requires the commission to hold a hearing on temporary historic designations within 20 days. There will likely be a special meeting within a couple weeks, but an exact date hasn’t yet been selected, he said.

Further, a temporary designation only requires approval by the Historic Preservation Commission. Permanent historic designations need the approval by both the commission and Milwaukee Common Council. The temporary historic status, if approved by the commission, would remain in effect either until the Common Council votes on the permanent designation or for 180 days, when it would automatically expire.

McCarthy said that after she learned of the plans to demolish the building, she did some research to see whether it had historical significance. She then decided to file the application based on her findings.

“What I appreciate about the process of a local designation application is that it goes before the community via the Historic Preservation Commission, and it gives the community an opportunity to have a conversation about the potential loss of a structure that may prove important to the character of the city of Milwaukee,” McCarthy said.

The roughly 0.7-acre property where the duplex is located is owned by Justabuck LLC, an affiliate of Connaughton’s group. The LLC purchased the property in July for $325,000, according to city records.

If constructed, the building would contain three dwellings and total nearly 7,000 square feet, Stanton said. There would be a one-bedroom unit at 840 square feet, a two-bedroom unit at nearly 1,500 square feet, and a three-bedroom unit totaling about 3,100 square feet on the top two floors of the building.

Stanton said Beach House plans to demolish the existing building as soon as possible, assuming the building does not receive a historic designation.

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