With so many folks working from home, Downtown hasn't had its usual daily population and consequently, many may have missed the fact that the new $60 million Huron Building at the corner of Broadway and Clybourn has been steadily rising.
The 290,000-square-foot building is being developed by J. Jeffers & Co., which owns the Mitchell and Mackie Buildings in the same square block, and its anchor tenant will be Kansas City-based law firm Husch Blackwell, which has 18 offices around the country.
The ground level will have 10,000 square feet of dramatic two-story retail store ronts, half of which will house a Milwaukee outpost of the Asheville, North Carolina-based Tupelo Honey restaurant, slated to open early next year.
Jeffers says that the decision to trim parking spots to create the double-height ceiling was one of many such choices that had to be made.
"This is a small site," he says, "every inch matters. There’s some true urban infill happening here."
Tupelo Honey will also make use of a large chunk of Clybourn side sidewalk space for outdoor dining.
Jeffers says that while he always considered the Broadway side of the building to be the most attractive to a restaurant, Tupelo Honey opted to focus on Clybourn.
"They came here and, seeing it with fresh eyes, had the exact opposite idea," he says. "They want people to visually connect with the Milwaukee Public Market and the Third Ward, across the street."
Jeffers says that there has been interest from coffee shops and a bank for the smaller retail spaces, to which, in one case, a drive-thru could be added.
"We’ve also had some fitness users express interest in the space,” he adds.
Tupelo Honey was expected to open in October but that has now been pushed to late spring. But, says Jeffers, it almost didn't happen at all.
Tupelo Honey had planned four new restaurants this year and when COVID hit, it canceled all of them, including Milwaukee.
“We were able to put the pieces back together and they’re now going to open here." says Jeffers, noting that the other three planned restaurants remain canceled. "A lot of it was economic terms. We’re now doing a little more of the buildout and we were able to work on the rental structure.
"This is such a great use for the space in the building. The goal of the building is to be catalytic. To get a user like a Tupelo honey, we thought – they got the vision of what we want to do with this ... the kind of place making aspects of it – we can’t lose this.”
The Huron will have 163,000 square feet of office space with private and common terraces, a fitness center, a tenant lounge with views and an interior parking structure, that will be open to tenants of other nearby Jeffers properties as well as to guests of the Homewood Suites next door.
Husch Blackwell will occupy the top three floors, each of which has its own terrace. Below those, on the eighth floor, is a common area for tenants, with a fitness center, interior lounge and exterior deck with great views.
Jeffers says that he expects the building to get its occupancy certificate on Oct. 19 and that Husch Blackwell will begin moving into its office space later in the month.
The lobby has a striking four-story ceiling height that Jeffers says hides the parking levels of the building. Those levels are also dotted with windows, and from the outside one can't tell they're parking at all.
None of the parking is underground – and the building has no basement – says Jeffers because of a high water table at the site.
The Huron was designed by Engberg Anderson Architects and is being built by Stevens Construction.
As part of the project, the developer is adding new streetscaping, widened sidewalks, improved lighting and helped fund a series of murals painted on freeway supports across the street.
The building's name comes from the former name of Clybourn Street, which until 1930 was called Huron Street.
In the past couple years, Clybourn – which has long felt like a lengthy freeway onramp with very little development – has gotten a boost from hotels like the Cambria west of the river, the Homewood Suites, a pair of hotels rising at Jefferson Street and the announcement that Central Standard Distilling will convert an 1874 Edward Townsend Mix building (across from the Huron) into its new tasting room and events space.
The exterior of the building is striking, with its copious use of yellow limestone, which conjures cream city brick, and its interesting masonry details that hearken back to Milwaukee's vintage brick structures.
Here's what we saw when we visited:
Husch Blackwell patios
Tupelo Honey space
Widened sidewalk under construction
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 an episode of TV's "Party of Five," 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.