Leaders from virtually every level of government, historic preservation advocacy and affordable housing development gathered Friday morning to celebrate the start of work on the long sought after redevelopment of Old Main and five other buildings on the historic Soldiers Home complex.

Built to house returning soldiers after the Civil War, much of the complex, located behind the Milwaukee Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, has been vacant for decades. But come spring 2021, veterans will again reside in 101 apartments in the century-and-a-half-old complex.

The Madison-based Alexander Company, after years of fundraising, ceremonially kicked off the $43.8 million redevelopment project in front of Old Main, the largest building in the complex. Old Main will be home to 70 apartments available for veterans at below-market rates, with three duplexes, the former chaplain’s residence and former Soldiers’ Home headquarters also being converted to housing to bring the total to 101 units. Support services will be offered to the residents.

“Never have we taken on something so sacred as Soldiers’ Home,” said firm president Joe Alexander after ticking off the firm’s nationwide list of projects including a train station, hotel and courthouse.

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This article was originally published by Jeramey Jannene of Urban Milwaukee.