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Apartment building proposed for grounds of downtown Milwaukee's historic St. James Episcopal Church

Apartment building proposed for grounds of downtown Milwaukee's historic St. James Episcopal Church

By Tom Daykin
http://www.jsonline.com/
Nov. 13, 2017

A seven-story apartment building that would include new commercial space to house weddings and other events is planned for the grounds of downtown Milwaukee's historic St. James Episcopal Church.

The new building would replace the church's rear parish house, which would be demolished, according to new plans submitted to the city Historic Preservation Commission.

The church, built in 1867 at 833 W. Wisconsin Ave., would remain with its historic character preserved, according to plans filed by developer Josh Jeffers.

However, it will no longer be part of the Episcopal Church's Milwaukee Diocese.

St. James had its final worship service on Nov. 1, according to the church's website. The church, which closed on Nov. 9, has been listed for sale by the diocese.

The Episcopal Church in the United States, like other mainline Protestant denominations, has seen declining membership for decades.

St. James closed "because of declining membership and the inability to maintain such a large building with increasing costs to keep it up," said Sara Bitner, spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Diocese.

Jeffers plans to rent out the church for weddings.

The new building's first two floors would have gathering space, a banquet hall and additional space for weddings and other events, according to plans filed by Jeffers with the commission.

The new building's five upper floors would have an unspecified number of apartments.

Jeffers couldn't be immediately reached Monday for more information.

By demolishing the parish house, built in 1899, the new building would be aligned with the existing church, the proposal said.

That would make the banquet space more accessible than the current split level between the church and the parish house.

Jeffers' partner on the banquet venue's food service is Oliver Hunt, who operates the Hidden Kitchen MKE food truck and catering business. That business hopes to open by mid-summer 2018.

Jeffers has redeveloped other historic Milwaukee properties.

His projects including converting part of the Mackie Building, 225 E. Michigan St., into 25 apartments; renovating the offices at the Mitchell Building, 207 E. Michigan St.; and converting the former Garfield Avenue Elementary School, 2215 N. 4th St., into 30 apartments.

Also, Jeffers is proposing a seven-story, 108-unit apartment building for a vacant lot at 511 N. Broadway, just south of the Mackie Building.

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