Developer J. Jeffers & Co., Milwaukee Area Technical College and contractor Schmidt will break ground Tuesday, Nov. 17, on a 195-bed, $29.1 million affordable student housing project for MATC students at the former home of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in downtown Milwaukee.
The innovative project — the first of its kind in Milwaukee — is aimed at combating housing insecurity for MATC students by creating a new category of property in the city: affordable student housing. Thanks to historic preservation tax credits that will help cover the cost of rehabilitating the 1962 addition to the Journal Sentinel property, the developer will fix rents to be below market rate by as much as 20%. More than 10,000 MATC students had incomes low enough to be eligible for financial aid in the last academic year, resulting in an acute need for high quality affordable housing options.
“Our students are telling us that access to housing is key to giving them the stability they need to graduate and connect to a career, a four-year degree or both,” MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin said. “Ninety-five percent of our associate degree graduates gain employment within six months of graduation, and they’re earning an average of $52,280 — that’s more than both the per-capita and median household income in Milwaukee County. To help more students get there, stable and affordable housing is key. We are honored to partner with J. Jeffers & Co. and CG Schmidt on this project to make that happen.
Danielle Bergner, an MATC alumna who is the COO and general counsel at J. Jeffers & Co., said, “Housing costs for downtown Milwaukee student housing and apartments have skyrocketed in recent years. However, thanks to federal and state historic tax credits, we are able to bring down the cost of construction to a level where we can offer high-quality rental housing at a discount to market rents, and in turn, offer an affordable and stable housing option to the MATC student body. We commend Dr. Martin and MATC for their vision and commitment to the MATC students.”
CG Schmidt Vice President Sarah Dunn said, “CG Schmidt is proud to partner with J. Jeffers on this impactful project. Not only will it provide affordable housing options for MATC students, it will also bring a long idle building in the heart of Downtown back to life. Having been based right here in Milwaukee for 100 years, we know that these kinds of projects have the potential to put a lot of Milwaukee residents to work with well-paying jobs. Along with J. Jeffers, we’re committed to maximizing diversity and inclusion on this project to help build a stronger Milwaukee.” Financing for the project is provided by U.S. Bank, WHEDA and Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust, with support from the Milwaukee Bucks and the City of Milwaukee. Eppstein Uhen Architects is the architect for the project and Cross Management Services of Milwaukee is consulting.
The project, located in the Deer District, also helps provide more of a true campus experience for some of the more than 30,000 students who attend MATC, joining two other such options for the college’s students in downtown Milwaukee and Mequon. The new building, located two blocks from campus adjacent to Pere Marquette Park, will offer many amenities to students, including a fitness center, study lounges, community rooms, and ample underground parking for students living in the facility.
Plans call for the first students to move in by August 2021. The college will soon begin marketing the apartments to students for the Fall 2021 semester.