Warehouse No. 1

The old warehouse at 126 N. Jefferson St. in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward has been reincarnated. Again.
The building, which was originally constructed for the Hansen Storage Co. in 1904, recently was renamed Warehouse No. 1. The structure most recently was known as Corcoran Place and the home of Comedy Sportz.
After a group of investors purchased the building six years ago, and Comedy Sportz relocated to Walker’s Point earlier this year, Warehouse No. 1 has returned to its original name and has been renovated to match its turn-of-the-century style.
The renovation began when Corcoran Place LLC, a joint venture, purchased the building in 1998 from Wispark LLC. Corcoran Place LLC’s partners are: Daryl and Michaela Stuermer of Urban Island Music LLC, Glendale; Pat LeSage, principal of the Pettibone Group LLC, Milwaukee; and Jim Injeski of James P. Injeski & Associates, Waukesha.
The partnership used a retrofit design to showcase the history of the 100-year-old building.
Eppstein Uhen Architects, Milwaukee, and Paul Davis Restoration of Southeastern Wisconsin Inc., Milwaukee, redesigned and reconstructed the lobby, the second floor and parts of the third floor.
The four-story, 75,000-square-foot building had all of its original architecture intact. Corcoran Place LLC has put more than $1 million into the restoration project, including $300,000 for the lobby after Comedy Sportz left, LeSage said. The construction project lasted from May to the end of September.
Each floor has 16,000 square feet, LeSage said. Core Creative Inc. and Pettibone Group are occupying space on the second floor. The first floor was left unfinished so it can be built-to-suit for future retail or office tenants.
The other current tenants of the building are The Titus Group, Inc.; Terasen Utility Services, Midland Video Productions Inc.; Proact Search, Inc.; Arcadis G&M Inc.; and Architectural Framing Systems.
Daryl Stuermer, the guitarist for the band Genesis and an independent songwriter, and his wife, Michaela, were interested in the property when they found out it was for sale. Injeski was their financial advisor who knew LeSage, a co-founder of Wispark, and introduced them.
"We bought the building at a great time. As fast as we could renovate, people were renting," LeSage said. "It kind of forced us to renovate things that we might not have focused on right away, but it was good for us."
According to Michaela Stuermer, a previous owner had renovated Warehouse No. 1 in 1991 for office space, but the second floor had been left untouched since Hansen Storage Co. left in 1974.
"This whole building has the New York loft feel," Michaela Stuermer said. "We wanted to keep that look but bring it back to its historic context."
Warehouse No. 1 served as the first location for Hansen Storage, according to Bill Hansen, president of Hansen Storage, Milwaukee.
Hansen’s great-grandfather, Theodore L. Hansen, and grandfather, Guido J. Hansen, started the warehousing company in 1904. Hansen Storage sold the building in 1974 when it had outgrown it and moved the headquarters to its current Wauwatosa location at 2880 N 112th St.
"We always view that building as something special," Hansen said. "It still has an ‘H’ on one of the blocks in the front of the building, and we take a lot of pride in that."
Paul Davis Restoration sandblasted the paint off of the timber support-columns on the second floor to restore them to their original state, and built out the walls and added stairs on the first floor for the lobby.
Light fixtures and railings were installed to complement the classic style and personal feeling of the building, Stuermer said.
"The building is very sound and very solid," said Dan Druml, president and owner of Paul Davis Restoration. "Most of the renovations we have done have been within the shell of the building and bring out the architectural features, which are the best parts of the building. The design work was also focused on complementing the architectural features."
Eppstein Uhen’s design emphasized the exposure of heating ducts, Cream City brick and timber supports original to the building.
"The owners group made it very clear as to what they wanted," said Pat Prendergast, an architect for Eppstein Uhen. "They showed us and referred us to a few other buildings in the area and knew people were raising the bar on lobby design. We knew we had to do something radical to make the building more attractive."
To add to the retrofit theme, Corcoran Place has hired local sculptor August Peter of Creative/Process, St. Francis, to create a 27-foot long vertical metal sign, similar to those at the turn of the 20th century, to be placed on the upper northwest corner of the building.
According to Michaela Stuermer, Corcoran Place had to obtain a variance for the sign from the Historic Third Ward Association.
"The Third Ward is committed to historic preservation," she said. "Our sign will reflect the same turn of the century theme that the building does. It will hang on the corner of the building and be made out of aged copper."
With the increase in business and residential interest in the Historic Third Ward over recent years, Warehouse No. 1 is expected by its owners to be a landmark in the neighborhood and a success with both retail and office tenants.
"It was a creative project, and we got into it at a great time, right when the Third Ward was booming, so people noticed," Stuermer said. "It was the most fun and the best investment we ever made, and because of it, we are now looking at other projects in Milwaukee."
October 29, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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