Department of Veterans Affairs – Community Resource & Referral Center
Project size: 7,542 square feet
Project cost: $2.4 million
Start date: April 1, 2014
Completion date: September 1, 2014
Submitting companies: J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. and Wangard Partners, Inc.
General contractor: J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.
Architect: Chequamegon Bay Group, Inc.
Engineers: Chequamegon Bay Group, Inc.; Mared Mechanical, Velcheck Finger Roof Consulting & Service; Wil Surge Electric
Owner: Wangard Partners, Inc.
A forgotten 7,542-square-foot historic cream-city brick building was recently renovated to provide critical resources and referral services to local veterans.
The Milwaukee Veterans Affairs’ Community Resource and Referral Center is one of only 30 institutions in the U.S. dealing with critical needs among the veteran population. The new center, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, will use the space to assist an average of 800 veterans annually, specifically those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The center provides mental health service referrals, job skills and job placement assistance, meal program services and general counseling needs.
The new center occupies a 1925 building in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville District originally constructed for a horse-drawn carriage delivery company. Extensive preservation and renovation work were required to repurpose the structure, with a mission of maintaining the original design while adapting the facility to its current purpose.
Much of the preservation effort included walnut blasting the interior’s exposed brick to restore its cream-city glow. Lion-head brackets on the exterior were also restored. Parapet walls were repaired, receiving brick and mortar color matching and tuck-pointing. The roof finish system was replaced to increase efficiency while retaining the existing fire-clay book-tile roof components and open-steel truss structural system. Finally, the building’s storefront single-panel glazing was replaced with insulated units to increase energy efficiency but still maintain the building’s historic heritage.
The property is owned by Wangard Partners, which hired J.H. Findorff & Son as its general contractor.
“Wangard Partners has a real passion for revitalizing areas within the community that are, at times, dirty and complicated,” said Wangard CEO Stewart Wangard, “due in part to the cleanup and historic preservation process.”
Through the revitalization efforts, the site was certified by the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service, and received a LEED Silver certification.
The existing building, originally a bi-level structure, also had to be changed to accompany the VA’s strict compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, since many veterans seeking treatment at the facility have disabilities. Due to this need, a massive floor was in-filled to allow veterans to use the entire facility as an office-type space.
The renovation of the building, in the Third Street Historic District, is sure to be a catalyst for the redevelopment of Martin Luther King Drive’s south-end community in Milwaukee. The one-of-a-kind building now serves a one-of-a-kind mission of helping our nation’s veterans.