By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 07, 2022 at 3:25 PM

Seven years after we got that first tantalizing glimpse of what was hiding beneath the steel cladding of the old Gimbels-Schusters building on King Drive, work is starting on removing it and converting the building to a headquarters for the Thrive On Collective.

Work was set to begin Tuesday on the 1907 building at 2153 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and the first tasks will be asbestos abatement inside, loading dock demolition and the removal of those metal exterior panels on the east and north sides of the building, which was designed by Kirchhoff and Rose.

Some of the first construction activities will include internal asbestos abatement, demolition of the loading dock and removal of the metal panels on the east and north sides of the building.

Conversion of the structure into space for the community outreach programs of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Medical College of Wisconsin was announced in 2019.

Not long after, we took one final walk through the old department store, which was a neighborhood anchor of one of the busiest shopping districts in the city in its heyday.

“We are thrilled to start construction for ThriveOn King,” said Kevin Newell, founder and CEO of Royal Capital and co-chair of ThriveOn Collaboration.

“From inception, this project has been a collective effort with the community, and we are excited to bring that collaborative vision to life in this next stage.”

The building will include 89 mixed-income apartments, including 27 for independent senior living. The apartments will have amenities like a fitness center, underground parking and community and media rooms.

MCW and GMF will each occupy a floor, and there will be office space for partners active in workforce development and non-clinical healthcare partners, including Versiti.

Some proposed uses for remaining space have included an early childhood education center, makerspace, meeting space, a food hall and events spaces.

The project is expected to be complete in November 2023.

For more information, visit

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.