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Mandel Plans Lakefront High-Rise

8/1/2013 - A long-empty lot at the northeast corner of N. Prospect Ave. and E. Ogden Ave. is poised to be the site of a residential high-rise building if all goes well.

The site at 1350 N. Prospect Ave. is currently undergoing soil testing. A construction worker at the site indicated the 100-foot depth they’re drilling would be required for a high rise comparable to others in the area. Robert Monnat, Mandel Group Chief Operating Officer, said that the firm is gathering their background information for a project at the site, but declined to provide project specifics at this point beyond noting the project is in its very early stages.

The site itself is the last-remaining undeveloped site the Mandel Group owns in the old Park East Corridor. Long-time Milwaukeeans will remember the stretch of vacant land from N. Jefferson Ave. to the lakefront along E. Ogden Ave. as the original Park East. That land was cleared in the 1960's and early 1970's with the intention of ringing downtown with an expressway loop. Thankfully, all that was built on the northern end was the stub from Interstate 43 to E. Jefferson Ave., which was replaced with an at-grade boulevard in 2003.

Mandel Group acquired the stretch of land in the late 1980's and was an urban development pioneer when they filled most of the stretch with the East Pointe apartments and retail, as well as other low-rise or town home apartment and condominium projects. The company also made a significant contribution towards expanding Burns Commons.

Today all that remains of the original Park East land is a small corner lot. Before its freeway-era clearance, the site was addressed as 1362 N. Prospect Ave. and contained a Bauhaus-style building that was home to the Layton School of Art. Befitting its status as one of the last sites to be rebuilt, this piece of land was one of the last cleared for the freeway, with the wrecking ball coming in late 1970 (Milwaukee Journal photo). Despite relocating, the Layton School of Art never recovered, going from high profile to closed by 1974 (though the school was essentially transformed into the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design).

The site, for a short time, was planned to be a complex that was to include two 27 story towers financed in part by the Bradley family. The complex would have stretched from N. Prospect Ave. to N. Farwell Ave. between E. Ogden Ave. and E. Lyon St. and literally would have been built above the freeway. That plan died with the proposed freeway, and today most of that proposed development is occupied by the Mandel-developed The Franklin apartments.

The site is 74,816 square-feet (a portion of which is used for the pedestrian access trail that wraps behind Mandel’s Lake Bluff Condominiums), which might sound small, but the Mandel Group’s University Club Tower was built on approximately 41,382 square-feet. And The Moderne was built on all of 14,159 square-feet. So this site should be roomy enough for a high-rise tower.
-By Jeramey Jannene, Urban Milwaukee

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