HISTORIC REHAB WINNER
Six historic buildings on the Milwaukee Soldiers Home grounds have been returned to their original purpose—serving veterans.
Commissioned by Abraham Lincoln, the site was established in 1867 after the Civil War as a place where soldiers could recuperate. However, after more than a century of caring for veterans, buildings on the campus were vacated approximately 30 years ago and fell into disrepair.
After a decade-long effort, The Alexander Co. has restored several key buildings, including the iconic Old Main, the site’s signature structure, to create 101 permanent supportive housing units.
“To be able to repurpose it for veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness is remarkable,” says Joseph Alexander, president of The Alexander Co., which brought its vast experience in affordable housing and adaptive reuse to the project.
Preservation of the historic features began in 2019 and included sourcing slate from a Vermont quarry to match the original slate roof tiles and refinishing wood and terrazzo floors and decorative tin ceiling tiles.
The Milwaukee Soldiers Home is on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, giving residents access to health and other supportive services. The housing and services are supported by the HUD-VASH program.
For the development team, it was a race against time to assemble the financing needed for the $44 million project before the Old Main fell into further disrepair.
A hybrid structure using both 9% and 4% low-income housing tax credits was used as well as historic tax credits and military construction funds. In all, about 13 layers of financing and a capital campaign with over 650 individuals and organizations were behind the project. The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee is the co-owner along with The Alexander Co.
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This article was originally published by Affordable Housing Finance.