Six historic buildings at the former Milwaukee Soldiers Home grounds will be redeveloped into around 100 housing units for veterans and their families under a $40 million proposal announced Thursday.
The buildings are on or near Mitchell Blvd., between I-94 and W. National Ave., on the grounds of the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center. They include Old Main, the Soldiers Home completed in 1869, and other historic buildings that are unused and in danger of falling apart.
The buildings will be redeveloped by the Alexander Co., a Madison-based development firm, and managed by the Milwaukee Housing Authority.
Planned financing for the $40 million project includes federal affordable housing tax credits, federal and state historic preservation tax credits and grants.
Work is anticipated to begin in fall 2017, with all buildings completed by April 2019, according to Alexander Co.
The 133,730-square-foot Old Main, completed in 1869, is the largest of the buildings. It sits on a hill overlooking Miller Park, and its tower can be seen from I-94.
Along with Old Main, the restored buildings will be the Administration Building (also known as Building 1), built in 1896; the Catholic Chaplain’s Quarters (Building 14), built in 1899, and three duplexes (Buildings 18, 19 and 62).
The apartments will include support services for veterans and their families who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless.
Alexander Co. and the Housing Authority were among the developers which responded to a 2015 request for proposals from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Alexander Co. will lease the buildings from the department, and will pay for renovating them. The Housing Authority will operate the buildings after they have been restored.
Support services, including education, job training and counseling, will be managed by the Center for Veterans Issues.
The project will help preserve historic buildings, while also serving veterans, according to department and city officials.
Project architecture will be led by Uihlein Wilson Architects, with Quorum Architects designing Building 1. Beyer Construction will manage construction of all structures.
The Soldiers Home grounds were declared a national historic landmark by the National Park Service in 2011, with the National Trust for Historic Preservation adding the buildings to its list of most endangered historic places. Since then, the VA has repaired Old Main’s roof and made repairs to other buildings.