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Developers talks plans to turn Journal Sentinel building into affordable housing

Posted at 7:05 PM, Nov 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-22 22:01:06-05

MILWAUKEE — A developer wants to turn the Journal Sentinel buildings into affordable housing for students and people who work downtown.

The property sits on West State Street and 3rd, just one block away from Fiserv Forum and the Deer District.

Josh Jeffers, president and CEO of J. Jeffers and Company, says so far everyone their team has talked to has been supportive of the plan.

"There’s a tremendous demand and need for that type of housing, but so far it’s been very tough for anybody to make the numbers work," Jeffers said.

The plan covers two buildings. Some apartments would be at market rate, or $1,550 per month according to Jeffers.

"The rest will be targeted towards a lot of the individuals that work in this part of the downtown, at the Fiserv Forum, or some of the hotels and food and beverage outlets that are here," Jeffers said.

Those remaining units would be affordable housing ranging from $432 to $1,220 per month depending on the unit size and average median income.

Student housing would draw from Marquette University, Milwaukee Area Technical College, and Milwaukee School of Engineering. The student housing rents would range from $645 to $720 per month.

In addition to housing, one of the former press rooms would transform into something similar to a student union with study lounges, computers, a fitness room, and a cafe.

"It's very exciting to have a project here that's catalytic in its own right but we're also kind of plugging in with it being a much broader redevelopment happening Fiserv forum as well as just a few blocks to the east we've got the Grand Avenue Mall," said Jeffers.

Mayor Tom Barrett says the city is the second year of refurbishing or building 10,000 affordable housing units over 10 years. The city says they are on track to meet that goal.

"There's no doubt there's a need. We got an aging housing stock and in some neighborhoods, it's a deteriorating housing stock as well," Barrett said.

J. Jeffers and Company owns the entire city block where the Journal Sentinel building stands which include Major Goolsby's. Jeffers says at this point they do not have plans for that part of the property.

Work on the Journal Sentinel building is slated to start at the end of 2020.