January 2022 Project Spotlight | Community Within the Corridor

January 31, 2022

Located on Milwaukee’s Northwest side, Community Within the Corridor is a mixed-use redevelopment that sprawls across seven acres totaling 406,000 SF.

The site consists of seventeen industrial and manufacturing buildings sitting on two blocks at the intersection of 32nd Street and Center Street. Uncovered foundation plans date back to early 1920’s with previous tenants including Harley-Davidson, small hardware stores and furniture stores, and light to large-scale manufacturing businesses, with the latest occupant being Briggs & Stratton.

Community Within the Corridor is an historic renovation adapting the former industrial complex into a mixed-use residential community. The project offers 197 affordable housing units and includes amenities like a commercial laundromat, small grocery store, daycare, after-school programming, small business incubator, and a multimedia production studio for audio / visual / storyteller creators. It also features a 70,000 SF recreation center that includes a basketball court and multiple children’s activity and play areas. The goal of the redevelopment is to foster personal development, community growth, and inspire investment in the surrounding area.

The project is currently the largest privately-owned affordable housing development in the State of Wisconsin and relies on a number of funding sources including TIF, State, and Federal tax credits. The project must also garner approvals and permits from various governing agencies like the National Parks Service (NPS) which has jurisdiction over buildings that earn historic tax credits. It is truly a multi-partner development which requires the team to facilitate detailed and consistent communication with the entire project team.

Managing renovations of former historic buildings is never an easy task, especially on a project of this magnitude paired with its long-standing industrial past. Unforeseen conditions arise as the project progresses requiring continuous innovation and strategy to adapt. Project challenges include identifying and correcting structural issues with subsequent reinforcement, roof restoration, removing and installing new MEPFP and elevator systems, restoring and installing new windows in existing spaces, refurbishing and tuckpointing brick façade, and repurposing and refurbishing historic elements. Most notable of these elements are two masonry chimney stacks that stand approximately 120’ tall at the West Block and 160’ tall at the East Block. Structural stability of the stacks diminished over years of decay, neglect, and exposure to harsh conditions which significantly compromised safety for the site and future residents. However, they could not be completely demolished as they fell under protection of historic preservation standards. Working with the NPS, the team arrived at a solution that allowed for partial demolition and foundation reinforcement. Now, the stacks stand at 15’ and 30’ tall respectively, maintaining its historic character while paying tribute to the site’s industrial past.

The site is broken down into two major sections: East Block and West Block. East Block is the main resident and amenity area and contains buildings 1A, 1B Southeast, 1B South, 1B Southwest, 1B West, 1B Northwest, 1B Northeast, 1C, 1D, 2A, and 2B. Due to the length of time being unoccupied, there was excessive rot throughout all B buildings that had to be discovered and removed in order to safely progress work. The block also features a converted below-grade parking structure under 2A and 2B which required construction of a new parking ramp. It also includes four freight elevators, of which three shafts were reconstructed to accommodate passenger cars. The fourth shaft will be refurbished and house unit bathrooms on each floor.

The West Block is adapted for mainly for commercial use with some residential units. The block contains buildings 4, 5, 6, 7, 8A, and 8B. It features a newly installed underground cistern for collecting and recycling greywater which then gets pumped out for lawn irrigation.

East Block

Building 1A

Dedicated for multi-purpose use for local, small businesses. All three levels will be restored.

Building 1B

All B buildings are adapted for residential use which previously served as the heavy manufacturing and industrial areas with heavy timber columns and beams. The B buildings wrap around 1C in a horseshoe shape.

Building 1B Northwest (1B-NW)

Dedicated for residential units. The roof collapsed due to rotten timbers in the early stage of construction. Roof is currently being restored.

Building 1C

Dedicated for 70,000 SF recreation center. Former heavy manufacturing line and industrial assembly space converted into full-size basketball court and multiple children’s play areas.

Building 1D

Dedicated for two-story lobby entrance off Center Street with residential units on third story. The original two-story structure had the roof and floor collapse prior to construction start causing a complete ground-up rebuild. During construction, the team added an additional story by underpinning the lower-level for the lobby entrance, yielding a three-story building.

Building 2A & 2B

Both buildings are large, two-story concrete structures with below-grade parking. Buildings are designated for residential units and feature large industrial windows. The top story features approximately 20’ ceilings with exposed 10’ tall structural steel roof trusses. Construction at both buildings progress simultaneously and are currently framing walls and installing rough MEPFPs. The team poured lightweight, self-leveling concrete flooring to correct the old, industrial, and uneven floors.

 

West Block

Building 4

Dedicated for daycare, multimedia production studio, dance studio, learning center, and vacant future tenant space. The building requires extensive restoration of the roof and masonry bearing walls. It is currently the only building on-site that is not fully enclosed.

Building 5

Dedicated for commercial laundry. Currently reviewing MEPFP layout and plan to confirm rough installation for commercial tenant.

Building 6

Dedicated for two levels of residential units. Finish carpentry is starting in two weeks. Replaced existing windows with all new energy efficient windows. Construction is progressing simultaneously with Building 7.

Building 7

Dedicated for two levels of residential units. Finish carpentry is starting in two weeks. Replaced existing windows with all new energy efficient windows. Construction is progressing simultaneously with Building 6.

Building 8A

Dedicated for three levels of residential units. In the process of inspections for rough MEPFP installation on all levels. The upper two levels feature renovated existing wooden windows with the top floor featuring roof light monitors which are slanted peaked windows that protrude from the roof. The building overlooks a shared, enclosed courtyard with Building 8B.

Building 8B

Two levels of residential units. In process of completing hanging and finishing gypsum board. The building overlooks a shared, enclosed courtyard with Building 8A. The top floor also features roof light monitors similar to those on Building 8A.

 

We are incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication displayed by our project team on a daily basis. Their determination, team dynamics, and forethought on-site is a major contributing factor to the progression of the project, which is essential when construction a project of this magnitude. Historic renovations always present a certain measure of unknowns, yet the team remains vigilant and innovative. We would like to recognize Daniel Grams, Project Manager, Josh Bruesewitz, Project Manager, Gene Widenski, Superintendent, and Ryan Hermes, Project Engineer. The owner is Scott Crawford, Inc. and Roers Companies, and the architect is Continuum Architects + Planners.

© 2022 Greenfire Management Services, LLC