Teweles complex going residential

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Teweles complex going residential

By David Niles, of SBT

Redevelopment of the Teweles Seed Co. towers south of downtown Milwaukee into apartments is expected to begin this summer with the help of a Minnesota company that provides affordable housing.
CommonBond Communities, based in St. Paul, has been working with New Berlin-based developer Robert Schultz to convert the Teweles building, at 222 S. 3rd St., into apartments, with a mix of market-rate and subsidized rents, said Brian Dusek, a housing development manager at CommonBond Communities. Of the 115 apartment units to be developed, 73 would be for people who have household earnings of $54,000 or less.
CommonBond and Schultz, operating through his 3rd Coast Design Concepts, hold equal interests in the development, according to Dusek.
McCloud Construction, of New Berlin, will handle the work of converting the long-shuttered seed company into apartments, retaining much of the industrial look of the buildings, which date back to 1917. The buildings, which have nearly 155,000 square feet of space, have been vacant for more than 10 years.
The $16.1 million project will retrofit the Teweles facility, which consists of two towers, into the 115 apartment units, three floors of parking for 100 vehicles, and a host of additional amenities for residents, such as a fitness center, a private theater room, a roof-top clubroom and private roof-top terrace.
The 100 parking spaces would be reserved for tenants while 18 surface spaces would be unreserved.
Two levels will be added to the current 12-story tower which, according to city records, was built in 1918. The seven-story tower, which was built in 1928, will remain at that height, Dusek said.
The exterior masonry facade will be restored, and existing pre-cast parapets and poured concrete lintels will be repaired.
Window heights will be lowered to residential standards, Dusek said. He was impressed with the views from the building when he visited Milwaukee last week. "The views are incredible, even from the seven-story tower," he said, noting that the building offers panoramic views of the lakefront, downtown, the south side and the west side. When the two floors are added to the 12-story tower, the structure will be the second-highest building in the area, after nearby Rockwell International’s Allen-Bradley clock tower.
The structures are in excellent shape, Dusek added, noting they had been constructed for seed storage and see repackaging. "The structures are in great shape. They were built solid to bear incredible loads; it’s a fortress."
He also praised the original design of the buildings, saying "they have a sleek industrial look that was pretty ahead of its time for."
Addition of the two floors to the 12-story tower will make the project financially feasible, Dusek said. Along with conventional mortgage financing and other funding, the project will benefit from approximately $6.2 million in tax credits, he said.
The apartments will be a mix of studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The three-bedroom units and the penthouse suites will have private outdoor decks.
The building will become a small community, Dusek said, serving a variety of sub-markets which CommonBond defines as:

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  • Households earning at or below 30%, 50%, 60% or 80% of the county median income, which is currently $67,500 per year; 73 of the 115 units will serve those markets;
  • Young professionals;
  • The gay and lesbian community;
  • Empty nesters;
  • Students at nearby colleges;
  • People with physical disabilities;
  • Young families;
  • Senior citizens.

    CommonBond is not only partnering with Schultz in development of the project, it will also manage the property and offer social services to residents who need them. "We will provide a level of service where there is now a void," Dusek said. At the same time, he said, "we will ensure that our housing really blends into the community so that you won’t be able to tell it’s affordable housing that you are looking at."
    Dusek estimates an 11-month timetable for the building project.
    The neighborhood, on the edge of Walkers Point, is seeing other redevelopment, including conversions of other former industrial buildings into residences. "If everything proposed comes to fruition, this will turn into an exciting area of the city," Dusek said.
    Schultz owns the building through his Historic Teweles Seed LLC. The buildings and land have a 2002 assessment of $486,000.
    The project is CommonBond’s first for Wisconsin, but it has extensive involvement in Minnesota, particularly in the Twin Cities area. "We started looking at the Wisconsin market a couple of years ago," Dusek said. "This is the beginning of bigger plans for Wisconsin." He expects its next Wisconsin ventures to be just across the border from the Twin Cities area.
    In Minnesota, CommonBond, which operates as a non-profit, provides homes for more than 5,000 people with 44 housing communities in 30 municipalities. It was founded in 1971.

    May 2, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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