By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 06, 2018 at 12:40 PM

Last week, Michels Corp. began demolishing the innovative former Milwaukee Fire Department high-pressure pumping station on the western edge of Bay View in preparation for a new development it had announced after buying the site in April 2017 for $3.6 million.

Now, the details of that development, on South 1st Street at the Kinnickinnic River – across from the Lincoln Warehouse in what is now part of the new Harbor District – have been released.

The plan – called R1ver – is a $100 million mixed-use project that will encompass 220,000 square feet of office space, 67 residential units, 19,000 square feet of retail space and a 103-room hotel on land that was, in part, home to the Horny Goat Hideaway until 2015.

The five-building project – designed by Rinka Chung Architecture – will also include more than 1,000 feet of Riverwalk, bike paths and multiple boat slips, according to the R1ver web site.

It will also include more than 1,000 underground parking spots, covered bike parking and an on-site cafe with indoor and outdoor seating.

The Brownsville, Wisconsin-based Michels plans to occupy office space at the new development and expects to have up to 250 employees there.

"It’s great that Michels Corporation continues to grow, and it’s great that Milwaukee is a big part of the company’s plans," BizTimes Milwaukee quoted Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as saying. "What the Michels Family proposes on the banks of the Kinnickinnic River adds economic activity, public access to the water, and a transformative new investment in the Harbor District."

Though Michels had been mum, at least publicly, about razing the former pumping station, which is on the National Register of Historic Places but was not protected by local designation, the company applied for a demolition permit in April. The building does not appear in R1ver renderings.

"All in all, we are stronger with this development than without this development. It was not feasible for the company to move forward with this development if the pumping station were to stay," said Ald. Tony Zielinski in a statement.

"The company first approached me years ago and said they were looking at this site among other sites. They wanted to know if I would support this project here. I said, ’YES!‘ They then said they will continue to consider this site but we must commit to remain quiet while they exercised their due diligence etc. Ultimately, when the process progressed they said they will need to demolish the pumping station and if we objected they would not move forward with the project."

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.