November 2021 Project Spotlight | Forest County Potawatomi Community Center

Greenfire Forest County Potawatomi Community Center

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Nestled in the 5,000-acre Forest County Potawatomi Reservation, the Community Center is a central hub for cultural education, recreation, athletic training, competition, wellness, and social events. The entire design of the building was informed by the Forest County Potawatomi culture, from the two levels that follow the natural grade and lessen the impact on the land to the basic floorplan which takes its inspiration from the form of an eagle in flight.




The Potawatomi Tribal Council recognized a need to have a singular place to promote unity and togetherness for its tribal members while simultaneously offering cultural education, athletic training, recreation and competitive activities, wellness development, and social events. The Vision of the Community Center is to fill that void and create an environment where all people can grow in a holistic way.

“The Center will be a place where families can spend an entire day with countless options to fulfill each of their passions,” said Thomas Boelter, Division Director of Education and Culture for the Forest County Potawatomi. “The members will feel at home while guests can learn about the Forest County Potawatomi people. In its completion, the Center will provide a large space where wellness can begin take place. We considered every individual, from infants to elders, in the development of this project making it a place for all to grow healthy together.”




Situated on the Forest County Potawatomi Reservation, the design flows with the natural grade of the terrain to lessen the impact on the land. Further drawing inspiration from nature, the construction footprint mimics the form of an eagle in flight.

“The design brings forth an inherent bloom of culture,” said Boelter. “From an overhead view, the building represents the shape of an eagle. This is the Spirit of the Eagle and the rest of the Forest County Potawatomi clans, which will all be visible from within.”

“We are so pleased to have been able to design this building that will support wellness for the entire Forest County Potawatomi Community,” said Scott Ramlow, President of Ramlow/Stein Architecture + Planning. “In this pursuit of wellness, respect for nature is central in the entire design. The building levels flow with the topography of the site, structural forms mimic the trees in the surrounding forest and all spaces invite nature in with multi-story expansive views of the tree canopy outside. Ramlow/Stein, along with our partners, RDG Planning & Design, owe our thanks and gratitude to the Forest County Potawatomi for trusting us with this important work.”




After a formal Ground Blessing in May 2019, construction on the new facility began the following June. Construction was split into three areas: Area A, containing the gymnasium; Area B, containing the natatorium; and Area C, containing the fieldhouse.

Area A features a 20,000 SF three-court, wood floor gymnasium complete with LED scoreboards and monitors. The Eastern wing also includes offices, recreational and childcare areas along with bathrooms and an elevator.

Area B features an 11,000 SF natatorium which includes a wading pool with a zero-depth entry basin and spray features for younger swimmers, a six-lane lap pool for swim practice, swimming lessons, and group exercise classes, an activity pool, a waterslide, and a whirlpool with elevated sidewalls for ADA accessibility. It is highlighted by a 29-foot-tall by 130-foot-wide glass curtain wall that draws a connection between the cultural ties of the community and the forested surrounding. Area B also features the Commons area which includes a rock-climbing wall, commercial and teaching kitchens, weightlifting and cardio areas.

Area C features a 20,000 SF fieldhouse complete with synthetic turf, LED scoreboards and monitors and an elevated running track. The Western wing also includes offices and classrooms, bathrooms, and a stairwell.

The facility was broken into three independent areas for construction, which meant foundation walls, footings, and structural steel progressed in relation to the progress of each area. As a result, and in order to maintain a strict milestone schedule, structural steel was set in some portions of each area as concrete footings and foundation walls progressed in further sections. Area A was the first section to be complete followed by Area C, then B.


Milestone Schedule

May 2019 – Ground Blessing

June 2019 – Construction Start

January 2020 – Footings Complete

September 2020 – Topping Off

July 16, 2021 – Substantial Completion

July 30, 2021 – Final Completion and Turnover


View Exterior Progress Photo Gallery





At just over $550 per square-foot, the Tribe has invested a considerable amount of resources and thought into designing an effective Community Center for its members. And with nothing but a dense, wooded forest to begin with, selecting highly efficient and energy-conserving materials was essential when building a space to serve as a resource for generations to come.

The exterior includes precast concrete panels with an integral feather-inspired pattern and metal panels with three-dimensional natural texture and color. Clear glass encompasses the facility to maximize daylight and connection to the surrounding woods. When clearing the site of trees, all timbers were hauled off site via FCP Forestry Services for future utilization on the facility.

The Center’s interior is highlighted by exposed mass timbers and structural beams which were sourced from Bell Structural Solutions timber yard in Minnesota. The natatorium includes two glulam beams that are 10.5” X 71.5” X 130’. Two of these beams were needed to clear the longest glulam requirement. Both beams were fastened together in the field to equal 16,266 net board feet with an estimated weight over 55,000 lbs. This is also believed to be the largest glulam pick in the United States.

The Commons area interior includes polished concrete flooring with feather design inlays and features stair treads and the front desk made from hemlock and oak that were sourced from the site. All mosaic columns were designed with FCP members to represent the four seasons.


View Interior Progress Photo Gallery



As the construction manager, Greenfire is honored to build this monumental project for our Owner and to work with a fantastic architectural and design partners in Ramlow/Stein and RDG.

Constructing this project was no easy task. The project team constantly battled the erratic and unforgiving northern Wisconsin weather conditions daily. The team also completed the project during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This brought its own challenges including labor and procurement issues. However, the team remained vigilant and reworked the pull plan schedule to achieve all milestones and complete the long-term project. The project is highlighted by the team’s ability to maintain and safe and productive jobsite which includes:





“Greenfire and the partnering teams have worked together with our community to collectively gather both the exterior and interior design directly from the inner roots of our community,” said Boelter. “May this be a place where all dreams begin to take shape and develop into a reality.”

“Ramlow/Stein is thankful for the collaborative work of Greenfire, and especially that of Nick Moore & Craig Bailey,” said Ramlow. “The entire Greenfire team has been great to work with. Craig has been like having an architect on site; he is excellent with quality control and problem solving to see the design intent through.

“The Greenfire project team, our trade partners, and vendors have overcome many obstacles while making it past the 50% completion milestone,” said Nick Moore, Greenfire Project Manager for the Community Center. “Be it the unpredictable weather, unique construction angles, or current events in the world today, the group has come together to collaboratively create a plan to overcome. I look forward to finishing strong thanks to the culture and team we have establish onsite.”

The Spark | October 2021 Newsletter

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✔ Turn over Parterre at Emerald Row Apartments

✔ Cut the ribbon at 37th Street School Apartments

✔ Break ground at The Locklyn

✔ Crack the Top 5 for Largest Milwaukee-area Minority-Owned Businesses


Quite the checklist for Greenfire this month. Read more in our October newsletter!

Greenfire named a largest Milwaukee-area minority-owned business

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For the sixth time in seven years, Greenfire was named a largest Milwaukee-area minority-owned business by the Milwaukee Business Journal. We came in at #4 on the list this year, topping our previous listing at #5. The list includes 34 other local businesses and our owner, Potawatomi Business Development Corp., came in at #2 this year.

We are honored and humbled to be included among the many notable honorees for each of these awards. We thank the Forest County Potawatomi Community and Potawatomi Business Development Corporation for their backing and support and appreciate our customers, subcontractors and partners who bring our projects to life. We also thank our amazing team for their hard work and dedication in delivering quality, innovative, and impactful projects. The combination of everyone’s involvement allows us to build these impressive developments and bring value and improvement to our surrounding communities.

Click here to see a complete listing of all businesses named to the largest Milwaukee-area minority-owned list.

Urban Spaceship Conference Update

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We are less than two weeks away from the Urban Spaceship Conference! And if you have not heard by now, Greenfire is yet again the presenting sponsor. The conference is hosted by NEWaukee and NAIOP Wisconsin and explores the intersection of people and place and does a deep dive on top trends and future ideas in urbanism.

Greenfire is presenting the keynote panel – LIVE, WORK, PLAY – THE URBAN WAY – which includes forward Milwaukee thinkers specializing in connectivity and collaboration, architecture and design, and development and community experience.

The conference is Tuesday, November 9th from 9a – 4:30p and will be held at No Studios in the Brewery District of Milwaukee. There will also be a live stream for those who cannot attend in person. We are offering a free registration code for all guests at no charge. Simply login to the registration portal and add the code “GMS” in the promo code at registration/checkout to get a 100% discount on the ticket.

We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

The Locklyn Groundbreaking

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Wangard Partners hosted a groundbreaking yesterday to announce The Locklyn, a new apartment community on the former Olympia Resort property in Oconomowoc. Derived from the Scottish term ‘loch’, the project will embrace the natural landscape and freshwater environment and includes 178 luxury apartments, a pool, and a clubhouse. Seven buildings will house a variety of unit sizes. The clubhouse and pool will be located adjacent to a pond and provide additional amenities to the residents.

We would like to thank Wangard Partners for the opportunity to serve as construction manager on this impactful project and look forward to partnering once again with our friends at Kahler Slater and raSmith.

October 2021 Project Spotlight | Parterre at Emerald Row

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Parterre at Emerald Row is a new multi-family development within Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek, WI. The 348,000 SF project is the second phase of the Emerald Row Apartments and consists of two four-story buildings with below grade parking and brings 240 apartments to the market.

The scale and materiality of Parterre compliment her sister-building, Emerald Row, located directly to the north. Staying true with the early 17th century origins, Parterre provides exceptional greenspace with ornamental courtyards mirroring the decorative gardens of the past. A preserved moss wall installation is also featured in the lobby of the North Building. Various amenities are also on site like high-end resident finishes, a bocce ball court, swimming pool, meditative tearoom, movie theater, storefront exercise area, and private patios and balconies with decorative pavers accenting the landscape.

The development sits directly across from Oak Creek City Hall on a tight urban site, which inherently hinders logistics and restrains use of heavy equipment. However, through consistent and transparent communication the team overcame these holdups and maintained positive relationships with the City. Efforts included notification of all upcoming work that required road closures, coordination of heavy machinery and deliveries, as well as working diligently to keep the surrounding roads swept and clean.

Completing this project required a team effort from our preconstruction and field team. With construction beginning in September 2019, our team suggested a reconfiguration of the below grade parking structure. The reconfiguration minimized excavation depth, reduced foundation costs, and reduced the extent of soil retention systems. Environmental conditions also required cost remediation analysis of the soil which resulted in driving more than 1,600 geopiers to provide proper bearing and a negligible environmental risk. When framing the South building, our team made up ground on the overall schedule by reconfiguring construction sequencing and splitting progress into thirds allowing subsequent work to commence. Lastly, our team value engineered all building systems and materials to reduce project costs by about 10 percent to hit the target budget while still maintaining all unique design aesthetics. In all, the team maintained the original schedule with the North building turned over in mid-March and the South building turned over and project compete by early June.

We would like to thank Barrett | Lo Visionary Development for selecting Greenfire as the construction manager. Rinka+ is the architect and the Greenfire project team includes Tom Heinrich, Director of Preconstruction, Ed Person, Project Development Manager, Joe Kolavo, Estimator, Paul Hackbarth, Sr. Project Manager, Jeff Stanisch, Superintendent, and Jordan Guth, Project Engineer. We are incredibly proud of our team their expertise, innovative ideas, thorough supervision, and hard work that made this project success and cornerstone project.

37th Street Senior Apartments Ribbon Cutting

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Earlier this month, we celebrated the ribbon cutting of 37th Street School Apartments. Originally built in 1903 to serve the youngest generation as a school now adapted into quality housing for the older generation to live.

Developing this project into quality and affordable senior housing was truly a collaboration between a variety of organizations coming together for a greater purpose. Greenfire is honored to be a part of a project that includes community-centric organizations like Heartland Alliance and Community First, administrative organizations like the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, and MacRostie Historic Advisors, and the design team at Landon Bone Baker Architects.

37th Street School Apartments is the third historic renovation and adaptive reuse of a former Milwaukee Public School elementary school in Greenfire’s portfolio. Our specialty in historic renovations binds with our foundational belief that we must be good corporate citizens. We take great pride in constructing community-based projects that help revitalize, support, and sustain the surrounding neighborhood. We would like to thank Heartland Alliance for selecting Greenfire as your trusted construction partner and all of our outstanding trade partners who made this vision a reality.

To read more about the scope of work and view more images of the project, please view our 37th Street Project Spotlight.

The Spark | September 2021

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September was a great month for Greenfire. Our team on 37th Street School Apartments secured final occupancy for the adaptive reuse. Two of our projects were selected as Daily Reporter’s Top Projects of 2020. And we broke ground on The Common Place, a new mixed-use development just blocks away from Lambeau Field.

Read more in our September 2021 issue of The Spark!

Don’t forget to signup for The Spark if you already haven’t. Subscribe button is at the footer of our home page.

Daily Reporter’s Top Projects of 2020

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Two Greenfire projects were selected by The Daily Reporter for their Top Projects of 2020; the projects are Gold Medal Lofts and St. James 1868.

2020 was a truly unique year with unprecedented challenges, but it resulted in a competitive class of projects seeing over 100 nominations for the Top Projects awards. An awards ceremony was held at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee to recognize each of the projects that exceeded expectations and created a positive impact on the surrounding community. From infrastructure work to high rises, the recognition program put each of the winning projects in the spotlight and shed light on how these vital structures came to be, and the challenges the teams had to overcome.

Gold Medal Lofts and St. James received recognition for their outstanding historic renovation work that not only breathed new life into run down structures but also helped revitalize their respective surrounding communities. You can learn more about each of the projects by reading the stories published by the Daily Reporter or by visiting our project page.

We are honored and humbled to be included among the many notable honorees for each of these awards. We thank the Forest County Potawatomi Community and Potawatomi Business Development Corporation for their backing and support and appreciate our customers, subcontractors and partners who bring our projects to life. We also thank our amazing team for their hard work and dedication in delivering quality, innovative, and impactful projects. The combination of everyone’s involvement allows us to build these impressive developments and bring value and improvement to our surrounding communities.

Congratulations to J. Jeffers & Co and Kate Crowle for their exceptional determination, innovation, and work on these impressive historic renovations.

FCP Community Center Soft Opening

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The time had finally come… and what a magnificent time it was! The Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) Community Center held its official soft opening on Sept. 18, 2021, on a  beautiful, sunny fall day.

The opening was held in conjunction with a General Council meeting, and there couldn’t have been a better time for this momentous event. FCP tribal members and their families had the opportunity to see every aspect of their new facility, and many took the opportunity to tour every section of this incredible building – something that will serve the tribe for years to come.

The event started off with opening remarks from FCP Chairman Ned Daniels Jr., Council Member Nickolas Shepard and Council Member Brooks Boyd. Chairman Daniels was first to the podium, displaying his excitement and happiness that this day was finally upon his people. He said, “This is so much more than the concrete, glass and beams that take up this beautiful building. This project is much more than just another building on our reservation – it is bigger than that. Each of you have contributed to something that will forever change our people and this greater community.” He went on to say even more: “This building will be a place where our young ones can gather and learn a new skill.  It will be a place where they can develop their dreams and help further them to become a reality. And it will be a place that will allow everyone within the greater community to gather and experience everything that makes our little corner of Wisconsin so great. As I said in the beginning, words cannot express the thanks and gratitude I have for this building, and the exciting things it will bring for our people and the next generations!”

Council Member Nikolas Shepard then approached the podium with his small son. He spoke of how he and his family are looking forward to enjoying all that will be offered within this building. He said, “Migwétth to everyone that made this event possible. This is a very special day for our tribe…I’m very happy and proud to be here today. We felt it was necessary to build this building for our people here at home. It’s been a long time coming. This building is healing for our tribe!” He then held up his son and said, “This building is for them!”

Council Member Brooks Boyd was last to share his thoughts. “I just want to say how EPIC this is! This right here – what we are experiencing ladies and gentlemen – is a game changer for our people and for the next generations to come. This will provide great things for us all. We were focused on our children when thinking of this. We wanted a place for them to go to and feel good, feel safe and have a good time all around. This is a dream that came true. I’m extremely humbled and honored to have this here for you all. We are going to start feeling these impacts of this building immediately, and I am just very excited for that!”

FCP elder Louie Spaude was then given sema to come forward to bless the building and to ask the Creator to protect the children when they come in to use the facility. It was then time for the BIG moment for any FCP youth in the audience to come forward and cut the ribbon into their new building of hope, healing and honor!

From there, everyone in attendance piled into the building with smiles, laughter, astonishment, and with eyes scanning all over the place. The feelings were strong and happy! Once inside, children, parents and grandparents walked around looking at everything from the field house to the gymnasium, aquatic center, rock wall, weight room and ever nook and cranny in between. Many youth and members just said simply, “This is amazing!” with the biggest smile on their faces.

Soon it was then time for FCP Post I Veterans to bring in the staffs and flags with Fire Nation singing a welcome honor song. Veterans then posted the colors, and the flag song was sung, and everyone moved onto a prayer before eating. Once things were settled down and people had full bellies, the meeting was called into session.

Later in the evening, a Family Fun Night event was held at the community center. Families had the option of sticking around after the meeting or returning later in the night to enjoy the activities. The movie that was played in the field house was “Jungle Cruise”, and families brought their lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. It was an indoor/outdoor experience. There was popcorn, nachos, prizes, raffles, and all the center had to offer was open, including the pool and gymnasium. It really was an enjoyable evening for members and their families as they had their first chance to enjoy their new building with friends and family.

This new facility really will be a center of attention and activity for the tribe and surrounding communities for years to come. It has so much to offer for mind, body and spirit, and hopefully, will be important in contributing to a different direction of physical and mental health for people of all ages! And let’s face it… those walls will be calling our names during those long winter days. The warm and welcome atmosphere, and the many activities will be a welcome refuge when the cold and snow cover the land.


Read the full story in the Potawatomi Traveling Times.

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