Construction is to begin this spring on a 22-story tower that will expand a Milwaukee east side senior housing community and alter the city's skyline overlooking Lake Michigan.
Saint John's on the Lake expects to open the tower, with around 170 new units, in spring 2020, said Renee Anderson, president at Saint John's Communities Inc., which operates the housing complex.
The $123 million tower will replace a three-story building at Saint John's that provides 50 beds for older people who need nursing care and 24 assisted living apartments.
Those nursing care and assisted living units will be relocated to the tower's lower floors and a connecting four-story building. The three-story building, constructed in 1979, will be demolished.
The tower's upper floors will feature 79 apartments for seniors who can live independently, along with 16 "catered living" apartments, Anderson said.
That latter group has all 16 units on one floor with structured nursing and dining support similar to assisted living, she said.
The tower also will have a lecture hall and performance space, as well as two levels of underground parking.
It will be near the intersection of N. Prospect Ave. and E. Kane Place, using what is now an employee parking lot. That's at the northern edge of the Saint John's complex, 1756-1850 N. Prospect Ave.
The tower is being financed with $80 million in bonds issued by the Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority. That allows Saint John's to borrow money at a lower interest rate because the bond purchasers don't pay taxes on those investments.
Saint John's, a nonprofit corporation, also will borrow $52 million in short-term bank loans, Anderson said. The $132 million financing package includes an $8 million debt service reserve fund, and the $1 million cost of selling the bonds.
Piper Jaffray is the project underwriter.
The tower will meet strong demand for high-end senior housing.
Saint John's began marketing the development last year and has reservation deposits on 68 of the 79 independent living apartments, Anderson said.
"We had a very long waiting list," she said.
Also, the new building will provide better rooms than what Saint John's now provides for its residents who need assisted living and skilled nursing care, Anderson said.
Those residents will remain in their current rooms while the new tower is being built.
They will then move into new larger rooms, and some will share a room temporarily, while the existing three-story building is demolished and a new four-story structure is connected to the 22-story tower.
The residents who share rooms temporarily will then move to that connected building.
The project's architects are Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen and Blitch Knevel, of New Orleans. VJS Construction Services is the general contractor.
Saint John's already features a 10-story, 111-unit apartment building, which opened in 1979, and a 21-story, 90-unit building that opened in 2011.
Many of Saint John's residents moved there from the east side and North Shore suburbs. But a large number also come from communities from throughout the Milwaukee area, Anderson said.
The Saint John's site is already zoned for a residential tower. So, the proposal doesn't require Plan Commission and Common Council review.