Local officials joined community leaders and industry partners on Wednesday, November 8 for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Legacy Lofts at the Blommer Ice Cream Factory (Legacy Lofts) located at 1500 W. North Avenue.

Legacy Lofts is a $13.9 million project to convert the three-story historic Blommer Ice Cream Factory and an adjacent open site into a total of 64 units of mixed-income apartment units. Built in 1928, the now-defunct factory has been largely vacant for more than 20 years.

The transformative project is made possible through the partnership and collaboration of a strong team that includes Legacy Midwest Renewal Corporation (LMRC), Evergreen Real Estate Group, , Greenfire Construction Management, Continuum Architects + Planners, MacRostie Historic Advisors, HN Development, Walnut Way Development Corp., Haywood Group , Alderman Russell Stamper, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), the City of Milwaukee, and the Wisconsin Historical Society. It would also not be possible without the financial participation of U.S. Bank, Associated Bank, the City of Milwaukee, WHEDA, and IFF.

“This development creates jobs, restores an architecturally significant landmark building, and will provide quality housing within the Lindsay Heights neighborhood,” said David Block, Director of Development for Evergreen Real Estate Group. “We at Evergreen Real Estate Group are so proud that this investment contributes to the ongoing revitalization along North Avenue.”

The project received Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), State and Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC) Equity, Tax Increment Financing, HOME Fund financing as well as private mortgage debt. The existing historic Blommer building will be rehabilitated and converted into 38 one-to-four-bedroom apartments following National Park Services (NPS) guidelines. A new, three-story building with one-, two- and three-bedroom units totaling 26 more units will be built on the open site just west of the former factory. In addition to the housing units, 1,565 square feet of street-level commercial space is also being built in the new structure and will become the offices of LMRC.

Legacy Midwest renewal Corporation (LMRC), a partner of Legacy Redevelopment Corporation (LRC), promotes mission capital and mission based real estate development that seeks a double bottom line,” said Sally Peltz, founder and president of LMRC. “Legacy Lofts represents a vision of prosperity for all: the City of Milwaukee and our neighborhood. Legacy Lofts is the culmination of the critical, impactful, and inspiring work of our many partners. LMRC is bullish on West North Avenue,” Peltz said.

Modern, fresh materials, combined with innovative layouts ideal for the urban setting instantly uplift the street. For example, the new construction three-bedroom townhomes incorporate a key urban design concept of street activation by locating the entrances on the first floor along 16th Street, functioning as row houses or walk ups.

Street-level entries encourage pedestrian activity, street interaction, and “eyes-on-the-street,” which are essential elements in revitalizing any urban neighborhood. The historic rehab was designed to honor the existing building while at the same time modernize it and harmonize it with the rest of the development. “Continuum Architects + Planners has a strong commitment to projects that revitalize neighborhoods in the City of Milwaukee with cost-effective, yet striking designs that assist in eliminating the stigma of affordable housing,” said Falamak Nourzad, NCARB, AIA, LEEP AP, ASID, principal and co-founder of Continuum Architects + Planners. “A strong design concept for this project was paramount, given the client’s ambitious vision of creating a prototype for successful affordable housing, the aesthetic review process required by the City of Milwaukee and the need to integrate an historic building with new construction.”

The construction work, led by Greenfire Management Services LLC, will have minority contractor hiring programs intended to create opportunities for Milwaukee firms. “Minorities have historically been under-represented in the construction field. Our commitment is to partner with contractors who train diverse workforce participants that leads to a pathway to long-term sustainable employment. These efforts impact diversity in the construction field,” said Kip Ritchie, President, Greenfire Management Services.

Read more about the project here.