By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 26, 2019 at 10:02 AM

Although some residents began moving in as early as January, the Milwaukee Fortress – which occupies the former F. Mayer Boot & Shoe Co. factory at 100 E. Pleasant St. in Brewers' Hill – celebrated its grand opening on Thursday.

The $51 million residential project by The Alexander Company, based in Madison, came online in stages because the nearly 200,000-square foot Fortress is a complex of connected buildings erected over two decades, beginning in 1892.

JP Cullen, formerly headquartered in Brookfield, handled construction and also moved its offices into the building, which has other commercial space awaiting tenants.

Upstairs there are 132 one- and two-bedroom, market-rate apartments with a variety of floor plans that range from $1,200 a month to $3,700 for the duplex apartment in the tower.

According to Alexander's Kendra Bishop, the units are about 30 percent leased.

"At this rate," Bishop said, "we'll be fully leased in about four months."

Bishop walked me through the building before Thursday's official grand opening ceremony and here's some of what we saw.

Community room


Pet spa

Dog run

One of three fitness rooms

Original factory floors

Mayer memorabilia

Makers' space

Two views of the rooftop deck

The incredible windows in apartment 806

One floor of the tower apartment

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.