By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 02, 2021 at 9:30 AM

Today, J. Jeffers & Co. announced that it has closed on its financing for a project to bring 141 apartments to the old Journal building, 333 W. State St.

The $35.6 million in financing will underwrite Verdigris, a 141-unit market rate apartment development that is phase two of the effort to bring new life to the empty newspaper buildings.

We visited the complex of buildings last summer for this Urban Spelunking story.

The apartments, a block south of the Fiserv Forum and Deer District, includes heated underground parking, a co-working space and a deck and rooftop clubhouse. They are expected to be ready by autumn 2022.

Phase I, called Westown Green, converted the former pressroom addition from the early 1960s into affordable student housing, aimed at Milwaukee Area Technical College students. It should be ready by autumn.

A third phase will renovate space for Tenor Charter High School.

“We are excited to instill new life and restored beauty into this iconic, historic building in the very heart of downtown and leading into the city’s thriving sports and entertainment district,” said Josh Jeffers, Founder and CEO of J. Jeffers & Co., in a statement Monday.

“This western portion of the block will evolve into a beautiful, historic residential property with modern amenities, and we are thrilled to have construction underway.”

The original Art Deco Journal building was constructed in 1924, and the name Verdigris is a nod to the copper-like green patina-ed details.

Jeffers also plans a rooftop solar array to help power the building.

“We are very excited to be at the construction point for this project,” said Jeffers.

“I am so proud of the team assembled to work on the renovation of this block. They approach each project with passion and organization which allows us to wrap up Phase I and seamlessly move to Phase II without missing a beat. It’s the impeccable execution by this cross-functional team supporting JJC that is keeping these developments timely, on track, and on budget.”

Financing was provided by Illinois-based Busey Bank as construction lender, Midland States Bank for bridge lending and US Bank as an equity investor. Federal and state historic preservation tax credits are also being used.

EUA is the project architect, Heritage Consulting Group of Madison is the historical consultant and CG Schmidt is managing construction.

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.