By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 26, 2022 at 4:19 PM

The buildings on the site of the former Malteurop/Froedtert Malt plant at 3830 W. Grant St. in West Milwaukee are likely to be completely demolished, according to a number of sources.

The new owners – an investment group headed by Waukesha businessman Tom Beaudry – who bought the complex in April from Malteurop for $900,000, have listed the 17-acre site for a total of $10 million, or $588,235 per acre. The property was assessed at $2.73 million in 2020.

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An aerial view of the campus. (PHOTO: Malteurop)
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That listing notes that, "Seller will deliver the site free and clear of all structures," and the “buildings (are) in process of being demolished.”

The Froedtert brothers began malting near Downtown Milwaukee in the 1880s and built a new plant amid the farm fields of West Milwaukee (then the Town of Greenfield) in the 1920s. In the late 1930s, according to the WPA guide, Froedtert was the world’s largest commercial malting company.

In 2008, Malteurop purchased Froedtert. Before that, Froedtert was part of Lesaffre, which, in 1998, merged with Archer Daniels Midland. Malteurop provides malt to a wide variety of customers, including food producers, distillers, and macro and craft brewers.

Last summer, Malteurop announced that it was shutting down the West Milwaukee plant – which it did over the course of a few months – with a resulting loss of about 30 jobs. The company still maintains offices in the area.

As I wrote in this look inside the plant and its history in 2019, the 1950 headquarters and production offices/ labs buildings are hidden gems, tucked away on a back street. The entrance to the HQ building is framed by a stone frieze that conjures socialist realist works tracing barley from the farm to the maltster to the brewer to the consumer.

The frieze was designed and executed by Milwaukee Dick Wiken. Meanwhile, Bohemian-born sculptor and medalist Gustav Bohland created three statues – "Bird and Fish," "The Sower" and "The Reaper" – that are also here.

Craig Schaefer, a Village of West Milwaukee trustee and president of the West Milwaukee Historical Society, toured the site on Tuesday with Professor Matt Jarosz of UW-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Jarosz also serves on the City of Milwaukee’s Historic Preservation Commission.

According to Schaefer, "Bird and Fish" is now missing from the headquarters building.

“I can officially confirm that the developer's intention is to remove all buildings from the site,” says Schaefer. “He made that information public on the internet advertisement and at a recent meeting stating his intentions to the village staff/ some elected officials and its engineer R.A. Smith.

“I can also say that I am working to have Matt and his students in to survey and document the site. There's a room that exists with all the plans for the facility as well as a wealth of signage, plaques and artifacts that the West Milwaukee Historical Society would like to have.”

That survey and documentation would require permission from the site owner, Schaefer adds.

With all of the buildings being cleared from the site, this historic campus – which was a key site in a city known as a world capital of beer production – will soon be erased, with not even the architecturally significant headquarters and production offices/labs buildings and their accompanying artwork preserved.

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The office buildings. (PHOTO: Malteurop)
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It also suggests that the site could become yet another part of the stretch of big box stores along Miller Park Way to the north.

“At a minimum it certainly would be inconsistent with the comprehensive plan that the village just approved citing the need for inclusion of preservation of historic resources and focus on mixed use, more dense development given that we are a landlocked community and space is at a premium," says Schaefer.

The Village of West Milwaukee, Schaefer notes, is seeking to move in a direction that eschews, “big box retail developments that focus on suburban-style strip malls and parking lot-forward sites, to those that are mixed use, more dense and have walkable/biking/or public transit components and focus on engaging the street for the community and pedestrians.

Schaefer says that Milwaukee’s industrial past is also deserving of preservation.

“I would like to emphasize the importance of industrial architecture and its history, general preservation efforts and adaptive re-use of this kind of architecture.”

A message sent to Beaudry via his company website last week has not yet received a response.

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 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.