Abandoned Milwaukee Schoolhouse Becomes Beacon for Affordable Housing and Community Revitalization

Oct 16, 2023 | Accessible Affordable Housing, All News, Wisconsin

In the heart of Milwaukee’s near-west side, Gorman & Company restores a historic gem. What was once an abandoned schoolhouse, William McKinley School, is now McKinley School Lofts, offering 39 units of affordable housing that incorporates original features.

The grand opening was celebrated on Sept. 13, but getting to that point was no easy task. The historic renovation came with challenges, and Gorman & Company’s visionary approach helped it become a beacon for affordable housing and community revitalization.

Built in 1885, the architectural marvel symbolized education and community for generations. However, with the passage of time, the school fell into disrepair, becoming a mere shadow of its former grandeur.
Gorman & Company brought the cherished structure back to life, preserving the school’s historic charm while incorporating contemporary amenities into McKinley School Lofts.

The redevelopment features 39 affordable apartment units, including one, two, and three-bedrooms serving those living within the income groups of 30%, 50%, and 60% Annual Median Income (AMI), restored ornate windows and original brickwork.

Several units serve veterans, a testament to Gorman & Company’s commitment to addressing affordable housing concerns. By repurposing a vacant building, a piece of history is restored and transformed into a place where all community members are welcome so they can thrive.

“It was an honor to work with the City of Milwaukee to breathe new life into the historic McKinley School building, which has been an architectural icon within the Near West Side neighborhood since 1885.”

Ted Matkom, Wisconsin Market President

Impacts and Revitalizations

A collaborative spirit played a crucial role in McKinley School Lofts. The approximately $19.7 million historic redevelopment was financed by federal low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) and federal and state historic tax credits. Both of which were purchased by Cinnaire. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) allocated the federal housing credits and served as a lending partner. The state historic credits were allocated by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and purchased by Enhanced Historic Partners. The State of Wisconsin was also a lending partner.

A new bell rings at McKinley School Lofts, welcoming residents and providing a start to a brighter future. This project is a shining example of how historic preservation, community engagement, and affordable housing can create something truly transformative.

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