On April 12th, 2019, the Welford Sanders Historic Lofts won a 2019 Historic Preservation Excellence Award from the Wisconsin Association of Historic Preservation Commissions (WAHPC). The Welford Sanders Historic Lofts & Enterprise Center is housed in the historic Nunn Bush Shoe Company Factory in Milwaukee, rehabbed for new affordable housing and affordable business offices for community service organizations.
Milwaukee’s Nunn Bush Shoe Company was one of the largest and longest-operating manufacturers of leather shoes in the city’s history. The building was completed in 1916 and housed not only the company’s main manufacturing facility but their headquarters as well. The rehabilitation development team comprised of Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation (MLKEDC) and Wisconsin Redevelopment, and continued the legacy of the Nunn Bush Shoe Company’s progressive labor practices through the building’s reuse as affordable housing and office space.
MHA served as preservation consultant for the Welford Sanders project, preparing the federal historic tax credit application and the National Register nomination. Preservation work on the building included sensitive repairs to the exterior masonry and windows, removal of the loading dock, and reconfiguration and preservation of interior spaces into apartments and offices. Removal of a later rear loading dock allowed for a new courtyard and access to the basement that was redeveloped into a parking garage and storage for tenants. Interior spaces were updated to retain as much of their historic character as possible for the fifty-nine affordable two-, three-, and four-bedroom loft-style apartments and 40,000 square feet of affordable office space that now occupies the factory. Many brick walls were left unfinished and new ducts, pipes and conduit were left exposed to carry on the industrial character. The original sixth-floor cafeteria was adapted into amenity space for residents with a fitness center, party space, media room, and laundry area.
The Welford Sanders Historic Lofts stands as yet another testament to the continued success of the joint use of historic rehabilitation and affordable housing tax credits. MHA congratulates the project team on this award!