New Land Enterprises reveals possible future plans for Downer Avenue
While Downer Avenue was once a hub of activity and entertainment for the East Side, it's no secret that the last decade has shown signs of the neighborhood standing still, even possibly regressing.
Four vacancies on the strip is intimidating, but Milwaukee's New Land Enterprises has a vision for the future of Downer Avenue that would potentially fill those holes pretty quickly.
Pending approval and permits from the city, the development company says that it could provide the initial ingredients for a catalyst that would essentially revitalize the Downer neighborhood -- both from a residential and commercial standpoint.
"We'd like to make Downer more active and alive throughout the whole day, as opposed to just at certain peak times," says Tim Gokhman, New Land's director of sales and marketing. "That's going to involve coordinating residential plans with retail and office spaces."
According to Gokhman, New Land's is a three-part plan that begins with filling the four vacant storefronts.
So far, he says, three of the four are taken care of, starting with the interior renovation of Diablos Rojos' (Mike Eitel, Scott Johnson, Leslie Montemurro and Eric Wagner) Café Centraal, which opens in November in the former Gil's Café spot. The Diablos team has plans to expand the restaurant, which would place Optix on Downer, currently at 2616 N. Downer Ave., a few doors north inside the empty space next to Breadsmith.
Gokhman says that the space that was used as Time To Kiln, 2565 N. Downer Ave., is to be occupied by New Land and used as a showroom for the condo project the developers are planning for the northeast corner of Stowell Avenue and Webster Place.
That leaves only the former Einstein Bros. Bagels, 2567 N. Downer Ave., up for grabs.
"We are actively looking to fill it," says Gokhman, "but we want to be selective. We want someone that matches the flavor of what the street is becoming."
The second part of the plan, then, is the construction of an 11-story condominium project. The proposed plan includes 84 units -- 36 one-bedrooms, 37 two-bedrooms and 11 penthouses -- a community room and a fitness center. Gokhman says prices start at under $200,000 and range to $500,000, with the 11 penthouses ranging from $500,000 to $800,000.
"It's an incredibly gorgeous building," says Gokhman, referencing the exterior's Promeda grade wood, stone work and abundant glass. "It's not designed to upset the balance of the neighborhood, or stand out. The materials are intended to exhibit a timeless look that will work well with the area. We are incorporating elements of the homes already there, such as outdoor porch and patio areas, into a modern building."
Of course, it's difficult to bring more people into an area without adding parking -- a variable that ties into part three of New Land's proposal.
"We want to rehabilitate and rent out the two floors above Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop as office space," says Gokhman. The two floors total 26,000 sq. feet of empty space that Gokhman says was once used to store cars. "It's a very unutilized space and would be such a great location for something like a doctor's office or an attorney -- something that would be useful for the neighborhood. But right now, aside from it having no positive impact, the structure is starting to deteriorate. Time takes its toll, and there are major repairs that need to be made to that building."
In conjunction with the office space and condo proposal, New Line would add 200 parking spaces -- 70 dedicated to whomever occupies the offices and 130 available for the condo's residents.
"Without the parking, the redevelopment is going to be tough, but we're very eager. We've taken plans to the City of Milwaukee, which then have to go through the approval process. If everything goes as planned, we're hoping to start construction early next year and reach completion in spring 2009."
helluvahthermos said: I lived / went to school in Chicago before and during that cities condo / urban revitalization explosion. Construction was like a cancer everywhere you looked. I also moved to Chicago from Portland, Or. right before that cities revitalization (California = Chicago). I've always been on the cutting edge of leaving before the good things happen. Now when I return to both cities I can't believe what amazing places they have become. When I moved to Milwaukee 10 years ago (housing costs) I wondered when it would hit here. And, yes, I expected the people to whine about "the big buildings ruining our quaint neighborhoods". Give it up. Development patterns can be an organic process with all the anologies to nature you want to allow. In general, those who take the big risks, building an 11-story condo on the East Side, are usually the ones with a bit more vision, able to see what the rest cannot even though they are often blinded by $. The $ serves as a map for what is about to happen, it follows the demand. Milwaukee is on the verge of the next big eruption and I say "it's about time". So, sit back, stop whining and share in the excitement as our city slowly fades onto the map of great American Cities. The mix of old Milwaukee Mansions and the couple of Frank Lloyd Wright masterpieces on the east side will only be highlighted by the modern developments that grow. And for you doubters, do you think the money mongers involved in the two lake towers, the large companies like Whole Foods etc. are taking a stab in the dark? Do they have the bad taste of Grand Ave. Mall left in their mouths. No, they know we can do better. They've done their research and know what is about to happen. Also, please stop the suburban mindset complaining about congestion and parking places. It's part of urban life. If you don't like it move back to the burbs, join the NRA and spend your weekends mowing your grass and watching highlights of NASCAR races. Let the rest of us focus on appropriate public transportation and help us burn those stupid "nostalgia buckets on wheels" and get a real light rail system like Portland. The same for whining about taxes. If you want lower taxes pick up a copy of "Places Rated Almanac" and move to the city with the best "Cost of Living" rate and I'm sure you'll love living in Fargo! Another thought, join the ever increasing cycling culture of professionals who live within 3 miles (East Side and Bayview) to 7 miles (Washington Heights) of downtown. Give up the gas guzzler, enjoy the air and save yourself from having to watch Soap Opera reruns while you sweat at the gym. The accessories required to ride year round will provide you with all the shopping energy you need. "Oh, but how will I get to the mall?" There is your answer, you won't have to, it will be in your neighborhood on your way to see a movie, have dinner, buy groceries, go dancing, have a beer, see a play, go bowling etc. Chill people!
Cozen Beguile said: Whats up with that OMC? So you don't want me to let the people know that New Land Enterprise is run by... Boris? A convicted criminal who owes $97,000 in fines and restitution for fraud? It is public record. How come that was left out? PEACE!
Finch said: Re: Ryan - the reason that the East Side has dropped off is because the of the developments and improvements to the downtown and Third Ward. I don't see the East Side being "the" place like it once was ever again.
rednet said: yes, by burke, w/ calatrava as architect. it was not placed where the U. tower is located today. it was dropped. then came kilbourn. mandel's U. tower came after kilbourn and DCD's arm was twisted, I believe, to allow it to be so close.
JOHNNY said: UNIVERSITY CLUB TOWER WAS PLANNED FIRST
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