By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Jan 23, 2009 at 9:37 AM

By the end of January, and for the first time since 1996, people will once again work -- and live! -- at the former Pabst Brewery site.  This marks a major move forward for the development of the new Downtown Milwaukee neighborhood that's now called The Brewery.

Joseph J. Zilber, who purchased the former Pabst Brewery in 2006 after the city and lobbyists killed the ambitious Pabst City proposal, has been developing the area into an eclectic mix of office, residential and retail spaces. It's now only a matter of time before this neighborhood comes to life with more homes, offices, hotels, shops, restaurants and more.

The first office tenants move into the historically renovated Boiler House by month's end and people already are beginning to move into the Blue Ribbon Lofts, an 89-unit apartment complex developed by Gorman & Co. at the restored Keg House.

Trainer Architects, which in partnership with Max Dermond of Milwaukee redeveloped the brewery's former boiler house, will house The Albion Group architectural firm who will become The Brewery's first tenants.

"My goal is to preserve as much of its historic character as possible while at the same time creating a new and sustainable neighborhood for Milwaukee. The design, construction and development team is well on its way to achieving those goals," Zilber said recently in a statement.

Dan McCarthy, vice president of Brewery Project LLC, says that the entire new street grid should be "online by fall." This will be another huge milestone for the neighborhood as it will pave the way for a neighborhood experience unlike any other in the area. The new streets and sidewalks should knit the 21 acres of land into Downtown as never before.

With more than 20 buildings on the site, opportunities are wide and varied, says McCarthy.

"There are active prospects for every piece," he said.

A list of signed and speculated tenants includes:

  • Cardinal Stritch University is leasing a 24,000-sq. ft. building owned by Bando-Chmura for its College of Education and Leadership. This could open in May 2009.
  • Concordia University Wisconsin is in talks for a site for its proposed School of Pharmacy.
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's new School of Public Health. Mr. Zilber has donated $10 million to the public health school, but it's only speculated that it will build at The Brewery.
  • A 900-car parking garage at building A. This building also will include retail and is expected to open in October 2009.
  • Channel 10/36 expansion or move. Officials are discussing the possibility of Channels 10/36 moving some of its operations from nearby MATC to The Brewery.
  • A large corporate tenant. One name that's being discussed is Associated Bank. Several others are in active discussions.
  • Zilber Urban Park. A new, groundbreaking urban park.
  • A hotel. Officials are not disclosing the brand, but discussions are underway.
  • A coffeehouse. Again, no names yet.

In addition, local retailers are receiving "priority" consideration for spaces at The Brewery. I'll have more on this and on ways that you can recommend retail wants and needs next week in a blog.

If you haven't been to the site lately, I recommend checking it out. The Brewery has potential to be a lightning rod for additional development and much needed density in the greater Downtown area.

The developers have a walk-through video posted, check it out and be sure to listen to my exclusive podcast with Dan McCarthy. It contains even more details on the project. 

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.