Historic Paper Box Lofts

Milwaukee, WI
Historic Renovation
Housing for the Area's Workforce to Build a Strong Community

At a Glance

  • SUMMARY:Renovation of historic structure for workforce housing, WHEDA Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits
  • SIZE:5 stories, 72 units, 109,000 sf
  • COMPLETION: December 2014
  • CONSTRUCTION COST: $10 million
  • OWNER: Sherman Associates
  • CERTIFICATION: National Register of Historic Places
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Project Overview

Completed in 1920, the five-story, red-brick and cream-city brick building was once home to the Milwaukee Paper Box Company, a light manufacturer of intricate candy boxes. Sherman Associates saw a great opportunity to transform it into affordable housing for working families as well as preserving the historic structure. Already on the National Register of Historic Places, Continuum’s role was to create a design sensitive to the original industrial-style architecture; honor the building’s former function; and meet the community’s housing needs. Collaborating with a historical consultant, we submitted the complete package with construction drawings to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Park Service (NPS).

The renovation creates 72 units of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments with an emphasis on 2- and 3-bedroom family units. Existing large fenestrations with generous spans of glazing allow for open, light-filled apartments with access to views and fresh air on every floor. The interior floor plate is very deep, so we positioned the apartments around the outer perimeter to create space for lounges, common spaces, storage, and utility rooms. Also included are a community room, children’s play area, and indoor and outdoor parking.


  • Winner, Mayor’s Design Award for Architecture, Milwaukee, 2016
  • State Farm Building Block Finalist, MANDI Award (Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation), LISC, Milwaukee, 2016
  • Vintage Building of the Year, Apartment Owners and Managers Association of Wisconsin
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