Project to create 300 apartments in Milwaukee harbor district is moving forward

A plan to create 300 affordable, market-priced apartments in Milwaukee’s Port District is moving forward.

Bear Development LLC’s plan to redevelop 10 buildings, located at 123 and 147 E. Becher Street, was first disclosed in fall 2020.

The project was tentatively named Filer & Stowell Lofts – a reference to the historic use of the buildings by machine maker Filer and Stowell Co.

Bear Development has now applied for building permits for two buildings.

A three-story, 120,390 square foot building would be converted into a 78-unit foundry lofts.

In addition, a four-story, 48,454 square foot building would be converted into 38 Pattern Shop Lofts units.

These two projects could cost more than $ 13.5 million.

This is according to information filed with the city’s neighborhood services department, which oversees building inspections.

It was uncertain whether Kenosha-based Bear Development would convert any other buildings at this time.

These large projects are sometimes carried out in several phases as development companies obtain funding.

Bear Development chief executive SR Mills could not be reached immediately on Monday for further information.

The company originally planned to use state and federal affordable housing tax credits as part of its funding program.

Tax credits are sold to raise funds, with developers seeking bank loans and other sources of funding to supplement their financial packages.

Developers who receive tax credits are typically required to provide at least 85% of a building’s apartments at below-market rents to people earning no more than 80% of the local median income. Credits are provided through an annual competition.

About 210 of the 311 apartments offered were to bring these affordable rents to qualifying tenants.

The project did not receive tax credits when the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority announced the results of the last annual competition in April.

However, Mills told the Sentinel Journal in September that Bear Development would use a different federal affordable housing tax credit that provided a lower amount of money.

Mills said he plans to complete the financial package for the project by December. Other funding items include federal and state tax credits for historic preservation.

The Filer & Stowell buildings date from 1890, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.

The buildings are now mainly used for the storage of boats, with much of the space being vacant.

The redevelopment of the Filer & Stowell complex is located near another major Harbor District project.

The first phase of the River 1 mixed-use project, an eight-story office building overlooking the Kinnickinnic River near South First and West Becher streets, is now complete.

A spring opening is scheduled for the five-story building under construction to the east of the office building. And a Marriott-branded hotel with around 100 rooms is in the design phase.

Tom Daykin can be emailed to [email protected] and followed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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