The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has issued a request for proposals from developers interested in rehabilitating three more historic buildings in the Milwaukee Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District, continuing an effort to redevelop the complex's unused buildings.
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Ward Memorial Hall (Photo: Milwaukee Preservation Alliance)[/caption]
The three buildings, which are located on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, include: The Chapel (Building 12), the Governor’s Mansion, and Ward Memorial Hall (Building 41).
In a separate project, Madison-based developer The Alexander Company is working with the VA and city of Milwaukee Housing Authority to convert six buildings at the Soldiers Home
, including the iconic Old Main, into veteran housing. While that project's leasing authority requires the buildings to be redeveloped solely for homeless veteran housing, the proposals for the new project are not tied to that requirement.
Peter Zanghi, president of the board of directors of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, said the priority is to find a developer who will ensure veterans are served by the buildings.
The 6,620-square-foot Governor’s Mansion, designed by Milwaukee architect Edward Townsend Mix, was built in 1868 and has housed local VA Medical Center leaders throughout the years. The 5,610-square-foot chapel was built in 1889 and designed by Milwaukee architect Henry Koch. Ward Memorial Hall, also designed by Koch, was built in 1882 to include a theater/meeting room, store, restaurant and railroad ticket office.
“These are remarkable buildings,” Zanghi said. “The opportunity to return them to the service of veterans has been a longtime goal of ours through the Save the Soldiers Home effort."
Meanwhile, The Alexander Company's $40 million project to redevelop the six Soldiers Home buildings into veteran housing continues to move forward. Plans include renovating Old Main, the Administration Building, the Catholic Chaplain’s Quarters and three duplexes into a total of 100 housing units with supportive services for veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The project recently received Congressional approval, paving the way for construction to begin in the spring.
A group of community organizations last year launched a campaign to raise the remaining $4.25 million needed to restore the buildings. Organizers are still seeking $650,000 to meet that goal.