The Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) announced today that is has a contract to purchase the mostly vacant and half-built Staybridge Suites building at 1150 N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee.
An anonymous donor is providing funds to buy the building, MSOE said.
The university plans to use the building for an apartment-style residence for upperclassmen, graduate students and faculty who wish to live on campus, as well as campus visitors. There will be approximately 150 units, ranging from studio apartments to 1- and 2-bedroom units. The ground floor of the building will remain as retail space.
Construction of the 14-story building, located at the southeast corner of Water Street and Juneau Avenue, was halted in early 2009 and never resumed. The property went into receivership and was sold last year in a foreclosure auction to a partnership between the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and New York-based Square Mile Capital Management.
The building was to have had a 117-room Staybridge Suites extended stay hotel, 34 residences and first floor retail space. The only tenant occupying the building is a Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurant.
“Due to financial turbulence, the building has been unfinished and thus vacant for a number of years, and has become an eyesore in downtown Milwaukee,” said Dr. Hermann Viets, MSOE president. “No other developer has stepped forward with a feasible plan for this space. Limitations with the size and parking make it difficult to develop as office space, condominiums or a hotel, but it is perfect for our growing university community. Our enrollment numbers have been rising the past few years and we are on track to keep growing.”
MSOE is currently building a parking structure, that will have an athletic field on top, about a block northeast of the half-built Staybridge building. “We want to continue adding life to downtown Milwaukee. Our parking complex/athletic field will be completed later this summer, giving our students and visitors a place to park while they enjoy everything happening in our neighborhood,” said Viets. “This new residence will be an attractive option for upperclassmen who wish to remain downtown. It will also attract graduate students, and faculty to the area. The building and its residents will be a great asset to the city.”
MSOE’s plans for the building will be presented before the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee on June 13. If the purchase is approved, the university said it expects it will take 12 months to finish construction on several lower floors so students can begin moving in.