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A proposal for the former Humboldt Gardens and Zak's has been selected by the City of Milwaukee's Department of City Development.

City selects a proposal for the former tavern building at Humboldt and North

A proposal for the former tavern and rock club building at 1025 E. North Ave. (aka 2249 N. Humboldt Ave.), which was submitted by Kyle Mack and Todd Hutchison, has been accepted by the City of Milwaukee Department of City Development.

The plan, says Mack, is for one or two retail spaces on the first floor of the building and an undecided number of condominium units on the upper two floors. The current name for the project is The Kirchhoff, in honor of Charles Kirchhoff, the architect who designed the building with partner Thomas Rose.

"We've hired an architect and are still working through the plans," says Mack, who is an associate at CBRE real estate and investment. "Nothing has been etched in stone."

Mack and Hutchinson have not yet purchased the property. They plan to seek State and Federal Historic Tax Credits to help finance the project.

"We just learned on Friday that our proposal was accepted," Mack says. "At this point, that's as far as we've come. We're meeting with the City this week and expect to have something more concrete in the coming weeks."

According to the initial proposal -- details of which could change before the project is complete -- there would be one condominium on each of the upper floors, each served by a private elevator, and each with a private rooftop garden. Projected sales price for these units is $325,000 according to the proposal.

This DCD listed the property for sale earlier this year after obtaining it in a tax foreclosure.

When the building was initially listed for sale, David Misky of the city's Redevelopment Authority said the goal of the RFP was to save the building.

"The plan is to absolutely save the building and put meticulous work into restoring the exterior," Mack affirms.

"Todd (Hutchison) has completed many rehabs of historic properties through his development company, ABC Development. The goal has always been to restore the property."

Among the projects completed by Hutchison and ABC are King Heights, Riverwalk Plaza Condominiums, Welford Sanders Historic Lofts, Holton Street Lofts and Johnson Park Lofts, some of which were properties purchased from the City of Milwaukee.

Proposals were due in late April and DCD received seven of them. Those were narrowed down to three in June.

As I've written before, the high-profile corner building was erected by Schlitz Brewing Co. as a tied house in 1890. It was designated a historic property by the City of Milwaukee in January 2000.

As I've noted, the tavern was first operated by Julius Schmechel (1891-92), followed by Fred Zethner (1893-94), Charles Winkler (1895-1901), Louis Salzman (1902-04), Michael Schulist (1905-29) and Frank Deuster (1930).

Benjamin Jakubiak ran it as Humboldt Gardens from 1933 until his death in 1951. It continued to serve as a bar for another 12 years before sitting idle from 1963 to '69. It was the Mint Lounge for a few years after 1970.

Damian Zak operated as Zak's beginning in 1975. Later, it became The Spruce Goose, Kilroy's Tavern and The Hot Spot before it closed, seemingly for good, in 1992.

The third floor was originally a hall but has served as an apartment in more recent years. There was also a hair salon upstairs in recent years.

The turret's peaked top was removed in 1942 and the bowling alleys in the single-story section of the building are long gone, too.

You can read more about Schlitz's tied houses here.

Stay tuned for more on this building as information becomes available.


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