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Alterra now plans to demolish Bay View building

Alterra Coffee Roasters plans to build a wholesale bakery and cafe in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.

Alterra Coffee Roasters plans to build a wholesale bakery and cafe in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood. Photo By Courtesy of Kubala Washatko Architects Inc.

Nov. 3, 2010

Alterra Coffee Roasters Inc.'s plans for a cafe and wholesale bakery in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood have changed from renovating an existing building to razing it and building a new one.

Alterra changed course after cost estimates escalated for remodeling the former Maritime Savings Bank building, between Kinnickinnic and Howell avenues, south of Lincoln Ave., co-owner Lincoln Fowler said Wednesday.

The Board of Zoning Appeals in May granted a special use permit for the $4 million project, which called for adding about 3,000 square feet to the existing 17,000-square-foot building.

Under a new proposal being submitted to the board, the former Maritime building would be razed, with a new 16,000-square-foot building to replace it, Fowler said.

Fowler said the new building is being designed to provide more outdoor seating space. The cafe will include mezzanine seating that overlooks the one-story wholesale bakery and commissary, which will be to the rear of the building.

If the new plan wins board approval, demolition could begin in January after the property is sold to an investment group led by Alterra's principals, Fowler said. The bakery and commissary would be completed first, with the cafe to open perhaps by March 2012, he said.

Ald. Tony Zielinski, whose district includes the site, supports the new plan, which he called a "great addition" to Bay View.

Alterra still plans to finance the project with industrial revenue bonds issued in the City of Milwaukee's name.

The city would not be a lender, and Alterra would be responsible for repaying the debt to the bond purchasers. Issuing the bonds in the city's name would make them tax-exempt, allowing Alterra to pay a lower interest rate to investors that buy them. The Common Council approved that bond issue in April.

The project also would benefit from an allocation of federal New Markets Tax Credits, which are designed to encourage investment in lower income areas. The credits would be sold, with the proceeds generating a low-interest loan to help finance the new building.

Those tax credits were approved for Alterra by the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp., a business lending agency affiliated with the city.

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