Redevelopment project in the works for Milwaukee Athletic Club building

$30 million investment planned

The Milwaukee Athletic Club building was constructed in 1917.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:54 pm

A group of investors led by Milwaukee developers Josh Jeffers and Tony Janowiec are planning to buy the Milwaukee Athletic Club building downtown and invest $30 million into a redevelopment project for the 100-year-old structure.

As part of those plans, a newly-branded hotel would occupy floors eight through 12 of the building with floors eight and nine being completely redeveloped. Floors 10 through 12 would receive medium-grade overhauls, according to an email sent by MAC Board President David Kriete earlier this month and obtained by BizTimes Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Athletic Club building was constructed in 1917.

Currently, a portion of the ninth floor and floors 10 through 12 are operated by the MAC as a hotel. Floors six through eight and a portion of the ninth floor are used for recreation.

Janowiec and Jeffers are members of the Milwaukee Athletic Club. The two could not immediately be reached for comment.

The conditions of the sale of the building to the investor group includes a buy-back clause, under which the building would essentially be split into two commercial condominiums, the hotel and the club space. The investor group could later sell the hotel space. But the club would have the first option to reacquire the club space in the building, located at 758 N. Broadway.

The group led by Janowiec and Jeffers plan to hire a professional management company to operate the five-floor, 100-room hotel, which will be branded the MAC and likely be a Kimpton, Indigo or Marriott Autograph, according to the email.

The lower level of the building through floor seven, plus the rooftop deck will be managed by a hospitality and club operator of the MAC board’s choice. A new five-member board will be installed following the sale. One of the options being looked at is Northbrook, Illinois-based Kemper Sports.

On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Athletic Club will hold an all-member meeting to discuss the details of the plans. The MAC had 800 dues-paying members as of July.

On Monday, Kriete said a plan for the future of the MAC building has been in the works for a several months. Board leaders and the management team have been working to find the right partners and the right strategy for the club’s future, Kriete said.

“I am extremely excited and looking forward to tomorrow to speak directly to all fellow members about the different options and different plans we have narrowed in on to secure the brightest future for the MAC, its members and the employees,” Kriete said. “There is much, much, much more to come.”

According to Kriete’s email, the MAC building is in “desperate need for significant capital investment.”

“The MAC must sell its assets and rely on a third-party to administer and lead (and fund) the major redevelopment,” Kriete’s email said.

Ryan Doerr, owner of Strategic Club Solutions, who has been hired as the MAC’s general manager to oversee a solution for the club’s ongoing challenges, said a decision about the building’s future is not final.

“There are several options we are exploring,” Doerr said. “Nothing is firm or final until we’ve had conversations with our members. We have taken no vote. Nothing is signed. It is all conceptual at this point.”

Doerr said the members “may or may not” vote Tuesday on the plans.

Janowiec and Jeffers have both been involved in several catalytic projects in the downtown Milwaukee area.

Janowiec is part of the ownership group that purchased the Shops of Grand Avenue in December 2015. He is also principal of Milwaukee-based Interstate Parking Co.

Jeffers has completed many commercial development projects, often converting historic buildings into revitalized office and living spaces. He turned the Mackie Building in downtown Milwaukee, from offices into apartments, and restored the adjacent Mitchell Building, 207 E. Michigan St.

Earlier this month he unveiled plans for a seven-story mixed-use residential building next to the Mackie Building.

The $30 million MAC project will rely on receiving both state and federal historic tax credits. Beginning July 1, the per project cap on state historic tax credits will be reduced to $500,000.

“Time is of the essence to push through this renovation project, which we’ve already begun paper filing for,” Kriete’s email said.

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