Milwaukee Business Journal 2022 Real Estate Awards: Best Renovation – Residential

The Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home District on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center represents one of Milwaukee’s most significant historic assets.

As part of an Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, The Alexander Company and city of Milwaukee’s Housing Authority embarked on a project to preserve and rehabilitate six historic Soldiers Home buildings into 101 supportive housing units for veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The iconic Old Main and five other historic buildings reopened in March 2021, after a decade of work by multiple government agencies, private businesses, nonprofits and thousands of individuals working together. Today, the district serves as a replicable example of what is possible through innovative partnerships. When restoration began in 2010, Old Main, a five-story Victorian Gothic-style building, had been vacant for 20 years and had a hole in its roof that threatened collapse.

As part of the rehabilitation project, many of the buildings’ original features were restored and decorated with a mix of modern and historic design elements.

Renovated architectural elements include Old Main’s signature Gothic windows and historic grand entrance, refinished wood and terrazzo floors, and decorative tin ceiling tiles. Critical updates to the buildings’ infrastructures, including plumbing, electrical and paint removal, laid the groundwork for accessible entrances and community areas.

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation managed individual contributions for the fundraising campaign, while the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance served as the fiscal agent, assisting with fundraising and providing public outreach.

Real estate developer The Alexander Company creatively arranged a complex capital stack to finance the $44 million project through a hybrid structure using a mix of federal low-income housing tax credits, federal and state historic tax credits, military construction funds, capital magnet funds, NPS Save America’s Treasures Grant, multiple corporate foundations and more than 650 donor contributions as part of the Every Hero Deserves a Home capital campaign.

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This article was originally published by the Milwaukee Business Journal.