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Gold Medal Flats

People tour the former Gold Metal Camp Furniture Manufacturing Co. building in mid-August. The former factory at 1701 Packard Ave. is to be redeveloped to become Gold Medal Flats, with 77 apartments planned.

RACINE COUNTY — Driven in large part by the Foxconn project, 2018 brought a surge of outside investment in the greater Racine area by developers.

The greater Racine development explosion is ranked as the No. 8 story in The Journal Times news staff’s list of the Top 10 news stories for 2018. The top story of the year will be announced Jan. 1.

The unprecedented flurry of activity promises to re-energize properties and buildings that have lain dormant for many years, and even decades in numerous cases. In particular, the projects involve housing creation, the reuse of former industrial buildings and Downtown-area properties.

In addition to the new hospitals coming to Racine County mentioned in the No. 9 story of the year, the most noteworthy projects include:

Tannery at the Edge of the River — This housing development at 1230 Sixth St., by Inspired Real Estate Developers, got underway last summer with the interior demolition of what was originally a tannery. Inspired also plans for two new, multistory apartment buildings on the 3.8-acre property.

On the south side of the Sixth Street bridge, Inspired has also been securing purchase options on properties including the former Hoffman Furniture building at 702 Racine St. Inspired says its whole plan, for both sides of the Sixth Street bridge, will total approximately $55 million and about 335 new housing units.

Walker Manufacturing site — Milwaukee-based Royal Capital Group plans a $50 million or more mostly residential construction project on this former industrial site. The project consists of 242 market-rate apartments on the eastern portion of the site along Lake Michigan.

The company is buying the city-owned site for $3.2 million. The project involves a seven-story apartment building including a two-story parking structure, a five-story apartment building with one story of parking, a total of 364,666 square feet of new construction, and about 4,400 square feet of retail space, very possibly including a restaurant.

That will be phase one, with the back half of the site remaining to be developed later. The project is known as @ North Beach.

The Villages — A Wauwatosa developer has a housing project in the works to create 269 new market-rate apartments on 90th Street near the Mount Pleasant Village Hall and Police Department, a $43.5 million project in just that first phase. The project is to consist of 13 buildings of 18 to 21 units each. All apartments will have a first and second floor, each its own direct entrance, townhouse style.

The company hopes to start construction of the first building in spring.

Gold Medal Flats — An $18 million, 77-unit workforce housing complex is set to come to the Uptown area, a project that will preserve and restore the two historic Gold Medal Camp Furniture Manufacturing Co. buildings. Developer J. Jeffers & Co. of Milwaukee have acquired the connected former factory buildings at 1700 and 1701 Packard Ave., in the southern edge of Uptown.

They plan a historically faithful redevelopment of the first of the two 1894 buildings. Construction is expected to start March and be completed by the end of 2019. Another project for the second building could be announced later.

Downtown building shopping — A three-way partnership from the Los Angeles/Pasadena, Calif., area this year bought a large handful of Downtown commercial buildings.

The splurge started with the former Racine YMCA at 401 Wisconsin Ave. Mt. Royal plans to convert that 1915, four-story brick building to 46 brand-new apartments in a $4.5 million redevelopment project.

The partners have also bought two other large commercial buildings at 302 Main St., the former Main Street General Store; 411 Main St.; 436 and 440 Main St., the Haymarket Square Building; and 524 Main St. on Monument Square, a multi-tenant building; 409 Main St., the Copacetic hat shop; and 107 Fourth St., the former Waves Pub & Grill.

Altogether, estimates Tim Ryan, one of the partners, he and Mt. Royal have spent approximately $2.3 million to buy their portfolio of Downtown buildings. Including what the team will spend redeveloping and improving them, he said the total investment could eventually be close to $8 million.

Zahn’s Department Store — No project has yet been announced for this long-vacant, four-story former store on Monument Square that had its last customer in 1981. But its future is looking much brighter since Dominion Partners of Milwaukee bought the building at 500 Main St. for $1.1 million.

The developers say they will study their options for several months and announce a direction in the spring to bring new life to the 39,000-square-foot building.

Dominion also bought the former drive-through Chase bank nearby, at 426 Wisconsin Ave.

Ajax site, Uptown — In March, Cardinal Capital Management announced it had a purchase option for this former industrial site consisting of numerous buildings cobbled together in the 1500 block of Clark Street, between 15th and 16th streets.

Although so far unfinanced, Cardinal’s plan currently involves constructing two apartment buildings on the site. One four-story building would have 86 market-rate units, a $19 million project.

For the second, Cardinal hopes to obtain housing tax credits to build another four-story apartment building of 50 units that would rent at less than market rate, an approximately $10.6 million project.

The company has applied to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority for those credits which are announced in the spring.

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Reporter

Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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