REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
With An Unprecedented Rehabilitation Now Complete - We've Only Just Begun.
The Department of Veterans Affairs - Office of Real Property has plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the rehabilitation and reuse of three vacant buildings at the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, a National Historic Landmark District:
The Chapel (Building 12): The 7,316 square foot Chapel was built in 1889 and includes a bell tower and central steeple. The wood-frame building was designed by prominent Milwaukee architect Henry C. Koch using the popular shingle style variation of Queen Anne architecture.
The Governor’s Mansion (Building 39): The 7,488 square foot Governor’s Mansion was built in 1867 and is a two-story formerly residential structure including a finished attic, partially finished basement and a garage. It was designed by prominent Milwaukee architect Edward Townsend Mix and over the years has housed local VA Medical Center leadership. It is the oldest standing building on the historic campus.
Ward Memorial Theater (Building 41): Ward Memorial Theater was designed by prominent Milwaukee architect Henry C. Koch. It is 21,986 square feet and includes a first-floor auditorium, sloped stage, original theater seating area and orchestra pit. Additionally, a partial balcony level with theater seating includes a projection room.
The announcement comes on the heels of the successful rehabilitation and reuse of six Soldiers Home buildings, including the iconic Old Main, into 101 housing units for homeless and at-risk veterans.
The RFP, which is anticipated to be released toward the end of 2022, will be issued through the VA’s Historic Reuse Program (HRP), which was established by the VA in 2015 as a comprehensive Department-wide approach to making vacant and / or underutilized VA-owned historic assets available for reuse. It allows federal agencies to partner with public or private entities for alternative uses after consultation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). Unlike the Enhanced Use Lease provision leveraged for the rehabilitation of Old Main and five other historic buildings, the HRP is not limited to housing.
In Fall 2020, the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance engaged Miller Dunwiddie, in consultation with Allume Architects, The Alexander Company and JP Cullen to conduct a financial feasibility report designed to identify the best chance for success in identifying an interested developer and a feasible plan for reusing these important buildings through a VA RFP. The study found the rehabilitation and reuse of these buildings to be financially feasible and, coupled with the success of the District’s first rehabilitation project that resulted in an increased veteran population living on the grounds, highly desirable.
The Department of Veterans Affairs anticipates releasing an RFP in December 2022. When available, we will share information here and with anyone who has signed up for email updates. In the meantime, here are some resources you may find helpful as you consider this tremendous opportunity: