Restoration of historic Schlitz tied house in Riverwest for food truck park secures initial approval

Rendering of the proposed food truck park at 2249 N. Humboldt Ave. Credit: Dark Horse Development

Last updated on December 6th, 2022 at 04:32 pm

Plans to revitalize a historic Schlitz tied house in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood are finally moving forward after gaining conceptual approval by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission on Monday.

Local developer Clarence Morse of Dark Horse Development wants to convert the city-owned property, located at 2249 N. Humboldt Ave. at the corner of North Humboldt and East North avenues, into a food truck park, bar, upper-floor event space and offices. Morse plans to purchase the property from the city.

Originally named the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. Saloon, the three-story structure was built in 1890. The condition of the building has deteriorated over the years due to structural water damage and a southern portion of the building was demolished in 2019.

With an estimated cost of $700,000, the proposed project seeks to repair structural damage and restore the exterior facade with new material that mimic the original – in keeping with historical designation requirements.

2249 North Humboldt Ave.

The outdoor food truck park, dubbed Humboldt Gardens Gourmet, would be situated along the south side of the building, with six spaces for food trucks and two for food carts as well as outdoor seating and a stage. Inside, the ground floor would include a bar serving alcohol, coffee, tea and blended juices; table seating; and eventually, a full commercial kitchen to support the outdoor vendors and also to be used for food tastings and culinary arts classes for aspiring food entrepreneurs, according to project plans submitted to the city.

Event space on the second floor would be available for rent and would host educational presentations, artist pop-up galleries and health/wellness classes such as yoga and dance. The third floor would be used as office space for Dark Horse Development. The project also includes the addition of an elevator tower to the northwest corner of the building.

Morse plans to do much of the construction work himself through his other business Brew City Contractors. Barry Yang of Zimmerman Architectural Studios is the architect on the project.

The Dark Horse project follows a 2019 proposal by a different developer who sought to convert the historic building into retail space and condominiums. The developer backed out of those plans shortly later.

Morse, who has experience working on bar and restaurant projects, said the idea behind the food truck park is to give local food entrepreneurs the opportunity to launch their business without the financial risk of purchasing or renting their own brick-and-mortar space.

One concern the city’s Historic Preservation Commission brought up was parking availability in the area.

“Parking is always a concern, it’s tough down there, said Morse, on the issue. “However, I think we’re becoming a more public transportation-type area whether its bicycles, Uber, walking. The density is going up there because all of the other projects scheduled in the area.”

The proposal will be need to be reviewed again by the Historic Preservation Commission for final approval.

The historic Schlitz tavern was built by Charles Kirchhoff, who was one of Milwaukee’s lead architects at the time. The building was one of the earliest of the brewery-owned bars, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

No posts to display