Project Profile: River House Apartments in Downtown Milwaukee

Project Profile: River House Apartments in Downtown Milwaukee

POSTED ON in Wisconsin

River House Apartments in Downtown Milwaukee

A rendered image of the River House Apartments

The look and feel of Milwaukee's lower east side is changing for the better, thanks in part to the redevelopment efforts of Atlantic Realty Partners.

By the end of 2016, the commercial real estate developer and property management company plans to complete the first phase of a project that will bring new multi-family residential living to an area that was once strictly industrial.

Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin is proud to be working with Atlantic Realty Partners to give the new River House apartments quality, energy efficient windows that will also provide residents with some incredible views. 

The Details on River House Apartments:

  • Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Developer: Atlantic Realty Partners of Atlanta, GA/Chicago, IL
  • Project Value: $47,000,000
  • Property Description: Waterfront space formerly home to Gallun Tannery. Phase 1 includes two "U"­ shaped buildings with 243 units on 3.1 acres along the Milwaukee River. Units include studios, one, two, and three bedroom apartments.
  • Completion Date: Early 2017

The Story of River House Apartments:

Richard Aaronson of Atlantic Realty Partners

Richard  Aaronson of Atlantic Realty Partners

We spoke with Atlantic Realty Partners President and CEO, Richard Aaronson, to find out more about this exciting project.

Aaronson says his company had an eye on this particular opportunity for some time. The Gallun Tannery closed in 1993 after more than 100 years in operation. The Gallun family still owned the property up until Atlantic Realty Partners acquired it in 2014 to start developing the River House apartments.

"Our site is actually one of three tanneries that had historically operated in close proximity to one another," Aaronson explains. "Two of those three tanneries had previously been redeveloped."

Before the Gallun Tannery site could be redeveloped as residential living space, there was a lot of environmental clean up that needed to take place. That and the downturn in the real estate market kept Atlantic Realty Partners from making a move early on.

However, as the economy improved, environmental remediation progressed, and a path to change zoning became clear, the company seized the chance to transform the property and worked out a deal with the owners.

"Having direct access to the waterfront was obviously a very key component," Aaronson says. "We saw a great opportunity for residential development because there would be a lot of riverfront views that we could take advantage of."

In addition to the stunning views, Aaronson points out the close proximity of the site to downtown Milwaukee restaurants and other redevelopment taking place in the same area.

Eventually residents will be able to take a leisurely stroll downtown along a new riverwalk, which Atlantic Realty Partners is building in conjunction with financing that the city of Milwaukee provided.

Rendering of the future River House Apartments. View from across the Milwaukee River.

Rendering of the future River House Apartments. View from across the Milwaukee River.

Aaronson says sites to the north and south of River House still need to be developed. As that happens, the riverwalk will expand all the way down Water Street and feed into downtown Milwaukee.

Aaronson expects River House will provide attractive living space to Millennial professionals in Milwaukee as well as "empty nesters." However, Atlantic Realty Partners is also keeping families in mind, which is why there are larger two and three bedroom units.

"If somebody did have a family and wanted to move downtown, we have a portion of our unit mix that would be attractive to that type of consumer," Aaronson says.

The second phase of the River House apartments will be roughly the same size with around 205 units. Aaronson says the four apartment buildings will portray a unified architectural style without looking like four exact copies of each other.

"All the buildings have similarities but they're all different," he says. "They'll have different configurations and different shapes. As the U-shape legs reach out to the riverfront, each of those is unique."

While the buildings will help beautify the city of Milwaukee, Aaronson expects River House residents to enjoy a more beautiful life as well. A variety of amenities will add value to these luxury apartments. They include an outdoor pool and landscaped courtyards facing the river, game rooms, resident lounges, fully­ equipped fitness centers, a yoga facility and more.

"One of the advantages of building these larger communities is that scale allows us to build a lot of common amenities," Aaronson says.

Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin's Role in the River House Apartments:

Pella windows are playing a role in both the aesthetics and functionality of River House. The right windows were part of the vision from the start.

"Our plan from the outset envisioned very large windows that would maximize views from the outside and of course maximize views of the river," Aaronson explains. "Given the nature of the quality of the building and the quality of the development, you've got to think about going to a higherquality window system from a company like Pella."

Barry Schoening, Commercial Sales Pella Windows and Doors of Wisconsin

Barry Schoening, Commercial Sales

Barry Schoening, Commercial Sales Manager for Pella, worked closely with this project. He's excited to see how Pella products help turn big ideas into a reality.

"Our vision at Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin is to serve our customers' dynamic needs. Working with Atlantic Realty Partners on this project allowed us to focus on their vision, which ultimately allowed us to bring an innovative window solution  to this project," Schoening says.

According to Aaronson, there has been a trend towards larger windows in multi-family construction and design. However, Atlantic Realty Partners also had to keep energy efficiency in mind, which meant being sensitive to the Wisconsin climate with its harsh winters and humid summers.

One reason Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin turned out to be the best choice is the reputation Pella  has for their commitment to energy efficiency. Pella has been an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year nine times between X and 2016.

Pella also made it possible for the developer to acquire quality windows that fit into the River House project's budget. Aaronson says Atlantic Realty Partners often uses vinyl or aluminum windows, but for this project, they were able to go with higher quality fiberglass frames.

"We found a particular fiberglass system from Pella that allowed us to upgrade to what we think is a product that will perform better in this climate at a price point that we could afford," he says.

More About Atlantic Realty Partners:

Richard and his brother, Andrew Aaronson, founded the private commercial real estate group, Atlantic Realty Partners, in Atlanta, Georgia in 1995. Today, the company is responsible for more than $1.5 billion in residential and mixed use projects.

Atlantic Realty Partners specializes in the development of luxury apartment communities in the Midwest and Southeast. The firm strives to build and manage best-in-class projects in best-in-class locations using innovative and cost-efficient design.

In the greater Milwaukee area, Atlantic Realty Partners also built the Reserve at Wauwatosa Village. It is building the Reserve at Mayfair, and there are plans to build another upscale apartment complex in the city of Brookfield. Learn more at

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