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Three More Historic Buildings to be Saved

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Three additional historic buildings to be rehabilitated for the service of veterans, supportive services 

Press Release from The Alexander Company


In 2021, as part of an Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), The Alexander  Company and a team of local organizations celebrated a major victory as veterans were welcomed home to Old Main  and five other historic buildings on campus. Building on that success, the focus now shifts to the Ward Memorial Theater (Building 41), Soldiers Home Chapel (Building 12), and the Governor’s Residence (Building 39).  

Under the current proposal, these three buildings will be restored to their original purpose – the service of veterans. Through another strategic partnership with the VA, this initiative extends the continuum of care for veterans residing on  the Soldiers Home grounds and in the greater Milwaukee area, demonstrating a continued commitment to those who  have served. Upon completion the three buildings will provide over 35,000 square feet of community space and  supportive services for veterans. 

“Our partnership with The Alexander Company is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore three of Milwaukee’s  treasured historic buildings back to their original grandeur. The Zablocki team is extremely appreciative of the  community’s dedication in supporting our nation’s Veterans through efforts such as support for this enhanced use lease  initiative,” said James McLain, Executive Director of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. “It is a great honor to care for  America’s heroes on these hallowed grounds, the renovation of the Chapel, Ward Theater, and Governor’s Mansion only  strengthens our dedication to excellence.” 

Like the first phase, this project is also made possible through the EUL program with the VA. Through the EUL the three  buildings will be leased out long-term to The Alexander Company, who will take on the cost of rehabilitation. The law  authorizing EULs requires that the buildings be used to serve veterans. The public hearing held February 13th at the  Milwaukee VA Medical Center was one of the first steps in the redevelopment process, and the development plan will  be finalized in the coming months. 

The Alexander Company is a Wisconsin-based real estate services firm with a multi-faceted approach, overseeing the  financing, design, construction, and property management of developments in house. For over 40 years the firm has  earned national recognition specializing in historic preservation and adaptive reuse and led the team that rehabilitated  Old Main and five other historic buildings on campus and continues to operate and manage those buildings today. That  work served as a replicable example of what is possible through innovative partnerships and earned historic  preservation achievement awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the U.S. Department of Housing and  Urban Development, and the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation, among others. 

“As we move into this next chapter at the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, we at The Alexander Company are honored to  continue our role in serving those who have given so much,” said Joe Alexander, President of The Alexander Company. 

“Working together with the VA we’re able to expand the supportive and dignified environment for veterans on site,  while also preserving local, veteran history.” 

The redevelopment partnership includes the Center for Veterans Issues (CVI), who will operate the buildings upon  completion as well as have supportive services offices within the Governor’s Residence. CVI provides supportive services  to homeless and at-risk veterans throughout the state and is the largest community-based organization serving veterans  in Wisconsin. 

“We are looking forward to collaborating with the Milwaukee VA Medical Center and The Alexander Company to bring  additional resources that will help serve Veterans when they come to the VA,” said Ed Garza, President of CVI. “This  opportunity will help bring more awareness to the various programs that the VA supports and bring relief to our heroes  in need of assistance.” 

The Ward Memorial Theater will host community theater and musical groups and offer a destination venue for  conferences and lectures for VA Medical Center staff. The Soldiers Home Chapel will become a nondenominational worship space, and conference space for training and mental health sessions. The Governor’s Residence will hold offices  for supportive services providers as well as a technological training center to provide computer literacy training. In  addition to CVI, other veteran services providers include The Wisconsin Veterans Network, Journey to the Light  Ministries, and Feast of Crispian. 

Planned financing for the anticipated $25 million project includes State and Federal Historic Tax Credits, PACT ACT  Funding, National Park Service Save America’s Treasures Grant, New Markets Tax Credits, and philanthropic funding.  Work is anticipated to begin in the second quarter of 2025, with all buildings completed in the third quarter of 2026.