By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 13, 2023 at 10:30 AM

A new five-story mixed-use development is coming to the Park East corridor, J. Jeffers & Co. and the Milwaukee Bucks announced on Monday morning.

The $80 million development, which does not yet have a name, is slated for construction on the corridor’s Block 5, a slightly larger than two-acre site across from the Deer District, bordered by McKinley, Vel R. Phillips and Juneau Avenues and King Drive.

Rooftop terrace rendering.

The former site of the Sydney Hih, it is just across the street from the Moderne residential tower, the Aloft Hotel and The Trade Hotel, which opened earlier this year.

Construction is expected to begin in mid-2025 on the project, which will fill the entire block, except for the northeast corner, where there are utility easements. Completion is projected about a year later.

No architect has yet been named by the developers.

“We envision a vibrant, multi-use experience, driven by residential life and enhanced by recreational and commercial spaces throughout the building,” said Jeffers of the new development, which is said to be, “a cutting-edge building that seamlessly integrates residences and commercial spaces, designed to cater to the dynamic lifestyle of the city's
young urban dwellers."

Cafe and lobby rendering.

The residential portion of the development will include 210 apartments, with a mix of studios, and one-bedroom and one-bedroom units.

Rents are expected to start at around $1,200.

Among the amenities planned are green spaces, outdoor balconies, lobby hospitality and a rooftop terrace with views of Fiserv Forum and Deer District, There will also be an on-site parking structure.

In addition, the development will include 27,000 square feet of mixed-use space. Further information about what the developers describe as the, “unique activation of
the ground level commercial space,” is expected to be announced in early 2024.

One lobby rendering shows a cafe, which may be hypothetical.

“We sought a partner that would join us in our vision to keep enhancing the vibrant future of Deer District and Downtown Milwaukee,” said Bucks and Fiserv Forum President Peter Feigin.

“We are thrilled to work with a local firm who already has shown a dedication to investing in Milwaukee.”

The development is not the first in the Deer District area for J. Jeffers & Co., which recently converted the former Journal Sentinel complex at Phillips and State, into residences, student house and a private high school as part of a $65 million nearly-full-block redevelopment.

Jeffers said that development leased up more quickly than expected, showing that there is demand for more residential units in the neighborhood.

amenity room
Amenity room rendering.

Also in attendance at the announcement Monday were Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, who spoke in support of the project in the corridor, which has a mix of City- and County-owned land.

Block 5 is owned by the County and will be acquired by the Bucks, which will contribute it to the project as part of a partnership with J. Jeffers & Co., Jeffers said.

"I'm pleased to see more housing options come to the Deer District that will further activate this neighborhood, grow our local economy and support the nearby businesses," said Crowley. "And it's going to generate more tax revenue right here in our own community (so) that all of us will be able to benefit."

Madison-based FPC Live is also planning a development – this one a concert venue – in the Deer District. That one will be built just south of the Fiserv Forum.

North Central Group, which developed The Trade, is also discussing a potential second hotel, which would be located at 6th and State Streets, with the Bucks.

According to Feigin, a parcel west of the Bucks training facility on North 6th Street and a half-block section just north of The Trade are the two last big pieces available for development.

The announcement, said Johnson, is another boost for Westown, which has seen a number of developments recently.

"There are so many other great things that are happening here in Westown," he said. "You think about Milwaukee Tool coming, you think about the expansion of the Wisconsin Center district now, the Baird Center. You think about Vel R. Phillips Plaza, you think about Fiserv Corporation moving Downtown. You think about Kohl's bringing in the department store to Downtown Milwaukee.

"There's so much growth, there's so much momentum and we're building on that right now, right here in this neighborhood and it is so, so exciting. If we're going to continue to grow and we're going to continue to be a city of choice, then we need to make sure we have housing options that will help us to keep talent here in our communities."

In 2008, a plan to build a large hotel and residential development on Block 5 was announced, but that project never happened.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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.