By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 12, 2020 at 11:31 AM

After a series of delays, a $61 million plan to develop the 1916 Milwaukee Athletic Club building, 758 N. Broadway, into 54 luxury apartments as well as athletic and social club facilities for the Milwaukee Athletic Club and members of the public, has now closed on its financing.

While the building has been undergoing interior demolition work, the MAC has temporarily relocated to 735 N. Water St.

Discussions of a renovation plan for the building date back to 2017.

We went inside the Armand Koch-designed building before it closed for this Urban Spelunking story.

Developers J. Jeffers & Co. and Interstate Development Partners announced on Thursday that they have closed on the financing for the renovation project, which will also utilize State of Wisconsin historic tax credits.

The plan includes redesigning the first floor to make it more open to the street and welcoming to guests.

“It’s all systems go,” said Josh Jeffers, president and CEO of J. Jeffers & Co. in a statement. “No more waiting, no more hoping. The work starts now.”

The planned completion date is now autumn of 2021, Jeffers said.

CG Schmidt is the general contractor on the project and Kahler Slater are the architects.

Amenities in the building include a new rooftop bar and event space, a remodeled The Elephant Room into a speakeasy cocktail lounge, a restored Grand Ballroom, steam rooms, locker rooms, a swimming pool, workout facilities, a renovated basketball court, private MAC lounges, valet parking and a range of food and beverage options.

“For many years, the MAC’s strong and loyal members have considered many options to reinvigorate our Club and reinvest in our facilities,” said MAC President David Kriete. “This is the plan we have been dreaming of and working toward for many years. It accomplishes everything we aimed for and will certainly bode well for our future membership recruitment efforts.

"Current members will have a very special facility of which they can be proud, and new members will benefit from all that we are able to offer, from social and recreational activities to food and beverage opportunities. Under this plan, the MAC is back as a premier destination in Downtown Milwaukee.”

According to Jeffers, the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown halted the project in March, negatively impacting the funding for the project.

“(Our team) rolled up their sleeves, built a new capital plan, and successfully reconfigured and redesigned what was already a complicated project,” said Jeffers.

“When first envisioned in 2018, COVID-19 was not in the budget, and opening the hotel for the Democratic Convention was to be a big splash,” added Interstate President and CEO Tony Janowiec.

“Sometimes things happen for a reason. Now the project does have COVID-19 variables worked into the financial projections, with a stronger, more viable business model than before. It has taken a lot more time and energy from everyone, but in the long run, this will be the best thing for the Club, for the community and for the investor partnership.”

Calling this project, “uniquely different,” Jeffers said the MAC plan, “very similar to other grand projects because it includes many stakeholders. While the journey has been epic, Tony and I are both proud of what has been accomplished so far and optimistic about the future.”

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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.