The old F. Mayer Boot & Shoe Co. building – aka The Fortress – is in the midst of a major conversion from a variety of uses (industrial, retail, artist studios, band rehearsal spaces and more) into apartments. We went inside to see how the project is coming along.
The 193,000-square foot building at 100 E. Pleasant St. is, in fact, at least six connected structures, including that fortress-like tower. We went inside just before former owner Rick Wiegand sold the complex to the developers who are creating the apartments. You can read about the building’s history and see some “before” photos here.
The Alexander Company, which is also working to develop the iconic Old Main building at the National Soldiers Home, is creating 132 apartments in The Fortress.
Apartments in the front section – 12 on each floor – are expected to welcome tenants in autumn. Phase two, with 14 units per floor in the northern part of the complex, should be ready after Thanksgiving.
Local contractor JP Cullen is not only doing the construction work, it is also a future tenant. The company’s offices will be located on the south side of the building. The company will move about 40 employees into that space in June.
I was happy to see that Cullen’s space preserves the fireplaces, vault and woodwork that was already there.
Some of the 25,000 square feet of commercial space will be available for lease, too.
One worker on site told me that masons practically rebuilt the tower portion, which will become a tri-level apartment with some of the best views in town.
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This article was initially published in OnMilwaukee by Bobby Tanzilo.