The Spark | September 2021

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!

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Daily Reporter’s Top Projects of 2020

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

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.

The Common Place Groundbreaking

Merge Urban Development Group hosted a groundbreaking earlier this month to announce The Common Place, a five-story mixed-use building. The project is located in the Village of Ashwaubenon Sports & Entertainment District, just blocks from Lambeau Field and Titletown amenities. It will include 88 residential units, Odyssey Climbing + Fitness and an additional 3,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor. The occasion including speakers from all vested partners and municipal leaders and concluded with a  ceremonial dirt toss to mark beginning of construction.

We would like to thank Merge for the opportunity to serve as construction manager on this transformative project and look forward to partnering once again with our friends at Slingshot Architecture.

Project Spotlight: 37th Street School Apartments

The 37th Street School Apartments project is a rehabilitation and reconfiguration of a former Milwaukee Public School into senior living apartments. The historic school, originally built in 1903, is located in Washington Park and is one of three Greenfire projects converting a former MPS school into residential housing.

The adaptive reuse includes new construction of 49 apartments intended for mixed income seniors, transformation of the third-floor gymnasium into a community room, and installation of modern amenities like air conditioning and elevators. Construction began in August 2020 with the certificate of occupancy received this month.

The project relies on a number of funding sources which requires detailed coordination and communication with various governing agencies, like the National Parks Service which has jurisdiction over buildings that earn historic tax credits.

Managing renovations of historic buildings is never an easy task. Project challenges include navigating tight and uneven elevations and layouts; identifying and correcting structural issues; and installing new systems and windows while maintaining and preserving the historic character.

The project team split construction into three sections due to structural issues identified at project onset and subsequent repairs. The north and south sections progressed simultaneously while the east section followed closely behind.

Interior work includes installation of new windows along with saw cutting for new openings and installation of all new MEPs, elevator, and fire protection systems. The project also required trenching and installation of below grade piping for plumbing on the garden level. The team restored and repaired all original flooring and reused historic elements such as cabinetry, trim, and coat hooks. The north stairwell required installation of structural steel and a new concrete landing to make the stairwell more structurally sound.

Exterior work includes demolition of an old smokestack that could be seen for blocks and sat atop the former boiler room. The boiler room was demolished as well and a new vestibule expanded south which now serves as the new main entrance lobby. The project also required a substantial amount of tuckpointing as well as masonry to rework and correctly pitch exterior windowsills. Crews also scraped the existing paint followed by a fresh coat to restore façade aesthetics and maintain the original color. Scope of work also includes installation of custom windows and a new roof. Landscaping includes new sod and seed, furniture, asphalt parking lot and paths, and site concrete sidewalks.

The Greenfire team remained vigilant throughout the historic renovation, and we would like to recognize the outstanding work demonstrated on a consistent basis. The team includes Paul Hackbarth, sr. project manager, Jordan Guth, project engineer, and Angelo Rodriguez, assistant superintendent. The owner is Heartland Housing Alliance, and the architect is Landon Bone Baker Architects.

Urban Spaceship Conference

We announced last month that Greenfire is once again the presenting sponsor for the Urban Spaceship Conference on November 9th at No Studios in the Brewery District of Milwaukee. The conference is hosted by NEWaukee and NAIOP Wisconsin; it explores the intersection of people and place and takes a deep dive on top trends and future ideas in urbanism. This year, the conference examines the future of cities in a post-pandemic world.

Greenfire is presenting the keynote panel. The panel is titled LIVE, WORK, PLAY – THE URBAN WAY: THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE BREWERY DISTRICT. The interactive panel discussion features key members in the redevelopment of the district and the subsequent rise in living, work, and entertainment environments and venues.

We are excited to announce a code is available to use to register guests at no charge. Simply log into the registration portal and add the code “GMS” in the promo code at registration/checkout to get a 100% discount on the ticket.

The conference is on November 9th from 9a – 4:30p at No Studios. We look forward to seeing you at this in-person event!

Phillis Wheatley School Redevelopment Underway

The redevelopment of Phillis Wheatley School, a former Milwaukee Public School, is underway on the north side of Milwaukee. The historic renovation of the existing school in to mixed-income apartments include new construction of a four story, stick framed multifamily building to the south. It is one of three Greenfire projects converting a former MPS school into residential housing.

Initially opened in 1902, the school includes two additions built in 1960 and 1972. The ’60’s building renovation is the furthest along with MEP work complete for about 80 percent of the second floor and framing underway at first floor. An existing stairwell imposes a significant challenge as the team works with the structural engineer to level the uneven grade and second floor deck where former stair landings and structural beams stand. At the 1902 building, 90 percent of demolition and abatement is complete, as crews work top down to frame and install rough MEPs. Installation of a new fire protection system is currently underway throughout the building. The former boiler room in the garden level requires eight feet of infill which will house the mechanical room and part of a new unit. Construction of an elevator shaft is also underway in the garden level and will tie together the ’60’s building and 1902 building. Since the buildings were constructed sixty years apart, matching grade and floor levels again poses a significant challenge. The grade of the ’60’s building is about four feet above that of the garden level in the 1902 building and requires the team to complete a series of infills to seamlessly tie both buildings together. Demolition and abatement are complete at the ’72 building which houses the kitchen, lunchroom, and gymnasium. The lunchroom will be converted into two units as the rest of the building will remain largely unchanged.

For the exterior, installation of all site utilities is complete followed concrete and asphalt. At the 1902 building, tuckpointing is complete, comprising roughly 40% of the building’s façade. Painting is underway at the southwest façade progressing clockwise followed by installation of a new roof. Exterior work for the ’60’s building consists of tuckpointing, masonry restoration and brick infills. The ’72 building requires exterior cleaning only however all buildings include installation of all new windows. Final landscaping is set for Spring of 2022.

The project relies on a number of funding sources which requires detailed coordination and communication with various governing agencies, like the National Parks Service, which has jurisdiction over buildings that earn historic tax credits. Managing renovations of former historic buildings is never an easy task. Project challenges include navigating tight elevation heights; identifying and correcting structural issues; and installing all new MEP, trash, and elevator systems and windows while maintaining and preserving historic character.

We are proud of the work put forward by our Greenfire team throughout this historic renovation, and we would like to recognize the outstanding work demonstrated on a consistent basis. The team includes Shauna Boyer, project manager, Tommy Cummings, superintendent, Austin Stueck, project engineer, and Zach Barrow, preconstruction engineer. The owner is Royal Capital Group, LLC and the architect is Engberg Anderson Architects.

Greenfire presents Urban Spaceship Conference for second consecutive year

Greenfire is once again excited to announce we are the presenting sponsor for Urban Spaceship. The conference is hosted by NEWaukee and NAIOP Wisconsin and focuses on regional urbanization projects and leaders in community growth. The conference is expected to draw over 250 attendees across the state from all professional backgrounds. Keeping in theme with urban renewal, the conference is hosted at No Studios in Milwaukee which is a historic renovation project Greenfire completed in 2019. Greenfire will also present the morning keynote panel discussion. A huge thank you to everyone who helped bring this together for another run! We are looking forward to seeing everyone in person this year!

For more information and registration, please visit here.

Greenfire celebrates wrap parties for FCP Community Center and Crescent Apartments

Mandel Group hosted a contractor appreciation reception to celebrate the wrap of Crescent Apartments located adjacent to the Milwaukee County Research Park in Wauwatosa. The multifamily space is already 90% leased and displays Mandel’s forward thinking in providing quality housing options in non-traditional residential markets. We are honored to have served as construction manager on this innovative project and could not be more pleased with the final product.


The Forest County Potawatomi Community Center scope of work is complete as the team prepares for final turnover to the Tribe. In recognition of this concluding milestone, the FCP hosted a contractor appreciation reception. It was a day of recognition for the 193,834-man hours worked and recognition the zero recorded lost hours. The open house began at 10am followed by speakers from each of the project stakeholders. The ceremony concluded with a prayer followed by lunch served by the Tribe. The remainder of the day was for trade contractors to utilize and tour the new facility with their families. We are incredibly proud of our project team for managing such a complex and long-term project that will have a profound impact on the betterment of the Potawatomi Tribe. We invite you to view the video for a deeper understanding of the Community Center’s impact by watching this video.

Greenfire collects donations for First Nations Back to School Drive

This month, we had the pleasure of presenting the donations collected for our First Nations Back to School Gift Card & Supply Drive. This is the fifth year that Greenfire has supported the First Nations Studies (FNS) program, which is an academic program funded through the Milwaukee Public Schools system that provides services at schools with concentrations of First Nations students. We would like to thank our Greenfire family, all our neighbors on the Wgema Campus, our local community, and FNS Coordinator, Richanda Kaquatosh, for making this drive a great success. Together we raised over $1,100 in gift cards and donations along with three boxes of supplies to donate. It is with your generosity will that we are able to help numerous students and families in the region and we are grateful that impact in the lives of others. Together, we are making a positive difference.

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