On Monday, I tweeted that The Brewery, the complex of former Pabst Brewing Co. buildings on the northwest edge of Downtown, needs a coffee shop. That resulted in a tour this morning.
I jumped at the chance. After touring the Pabst Brewery on a number of occasions, I became fascinated with the cluster of study, ornate, historic buildings.
Michael Kleber, a leasing associate at Towne Investments, met me at the foot of the old grain silos near 11th and Juneau. We rode the elevator to the top for one of the best views of the city. When he told me there are architectural renderings imagining a restaurant up here, I could picture myself at a table having lunch.
Then, we walked around the neighborhood and went in to see how some of the buildings – some rehabbed and some not – look right now.
Cardinal Stritch University is already here as are a number of other companies in a completed office building. Another building has dozens of apartments that are full.
UWM is coming in soon, and Best Place is already open up the street in an old schoolhouse that was converted to Pabst offices in the 19th century, across from a shiny new parking structure. The roundabout connecting Juneau and Winnebago is now open, too.
The neighborhood's streets are lined with curbside rain gardens that, even in a 100-year downpour like we experienced recently, prevent even a drop of stormwater from going into the deep tunnel.
And a pocket park boasts a swale and a wall constructed of old pavers from the area. Kleber says in winter, water running through the pavers and transforms the structure into a stunning ice wall.
Madison-based developer Gorman & Company is interested in a couple buildings that have major potential, UWM is getting ready to put shovels in the dirt and Astronautics and other potential tenants are considering spaces in the are, so big things could be on the horizon.
My favorite building, the old German church overlooking I-43, is also Kleber's and while wandering through, we agreed that the lower level would be great for a restaurant (the building was long the home of the Forst Keller Restaurant) and the existing stage and balcony upstairs are perfectly suited to a rock and roll club.
I also took a picture of the space I'd rent for my Italian-style bar (cafe), if I had the time and money to open one.
That is just one of many photos I snapped while on the tour. I hope you enjoy this little photographic walk through The Brewery.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.