Vacant Blommer Ice Cream Factory to begin transformation into Legacy Lofts
Legacy Lofts is a $13.9 million project to convert the three-story historic Blommer Ice Cream Factory at 1500 W. North Avenue, and an adjacent open site, into a total of 64 units of mixed-income apartment units.
Built in 1928, the now-defunct factory has been largely vacant for more than 20 years. The construction work will have minority contractor hiring programs intended to create opportunities for Milwaukee firms.
“Minorities have historically been under-represented in the construction field. Our commitment is to partner with contractors who train diverse workforce participants that leads to a pathway to long-term sustainable employment. These efforts impact diversity in the construction field,” said Kip Ritchie, President, Greenfire Management Services.
The project received Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), State and Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC) Equity, Tax Increment Financing, HOME Fund financing as well as private mortgage debt. The existing historic Blommer building will be rehabilitated and converted into 38 one-to-four-bedroom apartments following National Park Services (NPS) guidelines.
“This development creates jobs, restores an architecturally significant landmark building, and will provide quality housing within the Lindsay Heights neighborhood,” said David Block, Director of Development for Evergreen Real Estate Group. “We at Evergreen Real Estate Group are so proud that this investment contributes to the ongoing revitalization along North Avenue.”
A new, three-story building with one-, two- and three-bedroom units totaling 26 more units will be built on the open site just west of the former factory. In addition to the housing units, 1,565 square feet of street-level commercial space is also being built in the new structure and will become the offices of LMRC.
“Legacy Lofts represents a vision of prosperity for all: the City of Milwaukee and our neighborhood,” said Sally Peltz, founder and president of Legacy Midwest renewal Corporation (LMRC). “Legacy Lofts is the culmination of the critical, impactful, and inspiring work of our many partners. LMRC is bullish on West North Avenue.”
Modern, fresh materials, combined with innovative layouts ideal for the urban setting instantly uplift the street. For example, the new construction three-bedroom townhomes incorporate a key urban design concept of street activation by locating the entrances on the first floor along 16th Street, functioning as row houses or walk ups.
Street-level entries encourage pedestrian activity, street interaction, and eyes-on-the-street, which are essential elements in revitalizing any urban neighborhood. The historic rehab was designed to honor the existing building while at the same time modernize it and harmonize it with the rest of the development.
“A strong design concept for this project was paramount, given the client’s ambitious vision of creating a prototype for successful affordable housing, the aesthetic review process required by the City of Milwaukee and the need to integrate an historic building with new construction,” said Falamak Nourzad, principal and co-founder of Continuum Architects + Planners.