UPDATE: The Pabst Brewing Co.'s return to the former brewery site – via a new micro-brewery and tasting room in the former First German Methodist Church and old Forst Keller restaurant (see below) – was initially projected to open by summer 2016. But this weekend Dan McCarthy – VP of The Brewery project at the former brewery – told me that a fall 2016 opening is now more likely.
Here is the text of the original post, which appeared Sept. 22, 2015:
It’s official. Pabst is coming back to Pabst.
Milwaukee’s City Plan Commission yesterday approved architects’ Engberg Anderson’s plan to rehab and add onto the former First German Methodist Church – later dubbed Building 23 after Pabst purchased it – at 1037 W. Juneau Ave. That means the project can now officially move forward.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has also issued a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for the project, according to Vanessa Koster, planning manager at the Department of City Development.
Built in 1873, the roughly 3,000-square foot first floor became the Forst Keller Restaurant when Pabst bought the building in 1892. The brewery used the slightly smaller upper floor as a training area.
Building 23 is part The Brewery complex – the site of the former Pabst Brewery – and is owned by Blue Ribbon Redevelopment. The Forst Keller closed in the early 1970s.
The work will transform the long-shuttered building into a small batch brewery, tavern and restaurant that will serve as the new Milwaukee home for Pabst Brewing Co.
The plan, announced in July, includes a micro-brewery on the first floor and a restaurant and tasting room upstairs. Mike Eitel, owner of Nomad World Pub, had signed on to run the restaurant but has since stepped away from the project.
Costs for the new brewery and restaurant – which is slated to open next year – are expected to run to more than $4 million and create roughly 122 new jobs.
"This project will provide a destination that boasts the rich history of this district," reads a project description statement prepared by the architects.
"By providing a small batch brewery by the very company that originally used the buildings in the district for beer production, it revitalizes the historical value of the building and the district. The use of the building, as it has been used in the past as a restaurant and gathering place, returns the building to what it was used as for most of its life."
Among the exterior work on tap is a new roof, with wood shingles replacing the current asphalt ones; repairs and repainting of windows; cleaning and restoration of masonry; rebuilding of missing buttress bases on the east side of the building; paint removal; and the installation of new doors.
The trio of flag poles out front will be retained and used for signage.
A two-story addition will be create about 800 square feet – for a prep kitchen, elevator, bathrooms and storage – on the empty lot out back, between the old church and Milwaukee Public Schools’ facilities and maintenance headquarters to the south.
A 2,300-square foot patio will occupy the southernmost portion of the lot.
Among the work inside, later wainscoting will be removed to expose original bead board, which will be repaired and painted; columns will be cleaned and repainted; beams will be reinforced; windows will be repainted; a later wall will be removed to restore the original balcony and railing; missing and damaged plaster will be repaired and/or replaced; shutters will be removed, as well translucent Pabst-era window panels; the staircase will be cleaned, repaired and repainted; and the ladder to the scuttle will be replaced.
"The intent is to clean and preserve the cream-city brick and stone exterior as well as restore existing wood windows, wood flooring and other historically significant building features," says the architects’ statement.
"The preservation of the historical building is a top priority for the project."
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.