The City of Milwaukee's Historic Preservation Commission on April 2 approved a proposal that temporarily designates the William C. Kneisler Tavern Building in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood as historic.
[caption id="attachment_337399" align="alignright" width="470"] Historic White House Tavern[/caption]
The 128-year-old building, located at 2900 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is the former site of the iconic White House Tavern, which shut down in December when Franklin-based developer HCI Properties LLC purchased the property. The company intends to renovate and open a restaurant in the two-story, 3,666-square-foot building.
A temporary historical designation would prevent demolition or irreversible changes to the property for up to 180 days or before a permanent designation can be made. With a permanent designation, any construction or exterior changes to the building would require review by the Historic Preservation Commission, according to the City of Milwaukee website.
Bay View resident John Ebersol proposed both temporary and permanent designations, filing applications with the city on March 13. Alderman Tony Zielinski, who represents Bay View, initially filed applications in late February for temporary and permanent historical designations, but later withdrew both applications.
According to records from the commission's April 2 hearing, HCI Properties co-owner David Griffith opposes the designation. The company and Toronto, Canada-based development firm Colliers Internationalhave released plans to add windows to the building's west side, renovate and remodel its existing kitchen, add new restrooms, and build a 660-square-foot outdoor patio on the Kinnickinnic Avenue side.
According to the records, the recent proposal was made because "the neighbors were concerned the building would be modified substantially."
"Of all the places on the south side, (the White House) in one of the most important," Ebersol said. "I wanted somebody in authority to make the decision about letting the new owners change it."
In previous interviews with BizTimes Milwaukee, both Griffith and his business partner Joe Grasch, co-owner of HCI, have said renovations to the White House property will preserve its historic structure and they seek a restaurant operator who has the same intention.
The proposal to grant the White House a permanent historical designation is pending committee approval.