A Madison developer and the Milwaukee housing authority were selected to renovate six buildings in the historic Soldiers Home veterans campus in Milwaukee into 100 housing units.
The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee teamed with The Alexander Co. Inc. of Madison to compete for the opportunity to restore buildings in the Soldiers Home into housing for veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The Soldiers Home, a national landmark built after the Civil War to serve veterans, is north of the Clement J. Zablocki Medical Center on West National Avenue in Milwaukee.
The $40 million project would preserve buildings on the campus, while also sticking to the campus’ original intent of serving veterans. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2017 for completion by April 2019.
“The Soldiers Home is a local and national treasure,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “This partnership and project is a perfect way to preserve the history of the Soldiers Home while meeting the needs of today’s veterans.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees the Soldiers Home, announced the award in late July. The department in February asked developers to compete to lease up to six Soldiers Home buildings for up to 75 years so they could be restored. They will be converted into housing with support services for veterans.
The largest building included in the RFP was the iconic 133,730-square-foot Old Main building. Most of the buildings included in the RFP are smaller residences, such as the chaplains quarters and three duplexes.
Now that The Alexander Co. and the Milwaukee housing authority have been selected, they will negotiate with the VA over the specifics of the project and lease terms, according to a July 13 letter by the VA.
The housing authority manages Milwaukee’s public housing for low-income residents, but it also has done developments that include market-rate apartments. The housing authority will operate the buildings after they are restored. The housing authority since 2005 has provided veterans housing and services in the Soldiers Home’s Surgeon’s Quarters building, which the organization restored.
The Center for Veterans Issues will provide onsite education, job training, financial assistance, counseling and transportation to veterans that live in the buildings.
The Alexander Co. has an extensive roster of projects out of state and in the Madison area. It will seek affordable housing tax credits, and historic tax credits to finance the development.
“Our team is honored to have the opportunity to work with these historic buildings and we are proud that through our work we will be able to return them to the veterans they were built to serve,” said Joseph Alexander, president of The Alexander Co.
Milwaukee architects Uihlein Wilson Architects and Quorum Architects will lead design work for the rehab of the former administration building at Soldiers Home, one of the six buildings that will be rehabbed.