West Allis seeks redevelopment of National Avenue site that includes historic industrial building

RFP calls for renovation of 40,000-square-foot former Kearney & Trecker plant

The rendering of what the redeveloped Kearney & Trecker building could look like. (Rendering: Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc.)

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:55 am

The city of West Allis is seeking developers interested in renovating a former Kearney & Trecker Corp. manufacturing building and adjacent land on West National Avenue, in hopes to continue the development activity being seen along this particular commercial corridor.

Earlier this month, the city’s Community Development Authority issued a request for proposals for the redevelopment of roughly 4.7 acres of land bounded by West National Avenue to the north, railroad tracks to the east, West Mitchell Street to the south and South 68th Street to the west.

The redevelopment area identified includes the 40,000-square-foot building at 6771 W. National Ave., which was part of the former Kearney & Trecker plant that manufactured milling machines. The other three properties consist of the 13,000-square-foot former Perfect Screw Products Corp. facility at 6749-6751 W. National Ave. and two vacant parcels.

The RFP describes the Kearney & Trecker building as “a hidden gem covered in a shell of white steel siding.” Underneath the white steel exterior still exists the building’s original brick, the steel substructure and period industrial shop windows. The high-bay open warehouse space includes two mezzanine areas and a loading dock platform.

Patrick Schloss, West Allis community development manager, said the building could be well-suited for a mix of uses, such as apartments, entertainment space and even offices.

“We’re open, it just depends on how you develop your vision,” he said.

The redevelopment site has the potential to be the latest in a series of significant development projects in the area.

It is just down the street from Milwaukee-based Mandel Group’s Six Points project. This development focuses on residential and food-based commercial uses, and includes a 30,000-square-foot Aurora medical office and clinic, and upscale apartments. The developer is also planning another mixed-use building that would feature as many as 50 apartments and another 10,000-15,000 square feet of commercial space.

Also nearby is the site for Milwaukee-based Cobalt Partners LLC’s planned $100 million West Quarter development along South 70th Street. The West Quarter plans include 300,000 square feet of office space, 18,000 square feet of retail, a 128-room hotel, residential and educational component.

The Kearney & Trecker building was acquired by the city about two years ago, Schloss said. Most recently, the building was used as part of the neighboring Milwaukee Ductile iron foundry for storage and employee parking. The foundry closed in 2009. The Perfect Screw property, meanwhile, was acquired just this March.

Schloss said any development project for this area could potentially take advantage of a number of tax-incentive programs.

The Kearney & Trecker building was constructed between 1910-1926, and is eligible for historic designation. The RFP states that the city received a letter from the Wisconsin Historical Society indicating it was eligible for listing in both the state and national Register of Historic Places. This opens up the opportunity for any redevelopment of the site to receive historic tax credits.

Further, the project area falls within the borders of a number of incentive areas, such as the city’s existing 68th and Mitchell tax increment-financing district, a new market tax credit-eligible area, a Community Reinvestment Act area and a recently established Opportunity Zone.

“It’s a great way to help develop a capital stack for a building renovation,” Schloss said.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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