Empty Manitowoc Mirro plant No. 3 to become 'Artist Lofts' apartments

A public groundbreaking is held, Dec. 17, 2015, at the former Mirro plant on Franklin Street in Manitowoc. The groundbreaking kicked off a $9 million plan to turn the building into the Artist Lofts apartments. (WLUK/Bill Miston)

The Mirro company name has long been tied to Manitowoc, even years after the employer of thousands of people closed up shop and left the city. But today, a new lease on life, in the form of apartments.

Construction work had already started on the old Plant No. 3 on Franklin Street for several weeks. But Thursday was a soft ground breaking of sorts - punctuated by the hard sounds of a jackhammer being turned loose on the concrete first floor.

"On the floor that we're in here, we're going to have underground parking," said Todd Hutchison with Wisconsin Redevelopment. "Parking for about 45 vehicles."

"'Industrial chic' is kind of the style that we're going for."

Hutchison is one of the two developers behind the Artist Lofts project. Kristine Giornalista's group, Impact Seven, is the other.

"It's going to be providing 40 units of affordable housing; 36 are going to have rent restrictions for 30 years," said Giornalista. "So it's going to have long-term affordability."

A portion of the first floor will also feature art gallery spaces and an exercise room.

More than 100 people filled a portion of the large first-floor Thursday morning to celebrate the building's new lease on life. Rents will range between $300 up to nearly $600 a month.

"To have housing, close to where people can work, they can go to the grocery store, go do their shopping, that's really what we're trying to move toward," said Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nichols, adding that Hutchison's group is well-known from a previous redevelopment project in the city.

"It's great that this building, which was under-utilized, an old Mirro facility is being brought back to life."

Nearly $10 million is being invested in the project. The four floors will become two- and three-bedroom, loft-style apartments filling out the rest of the building.

"Condo-quality finishes on this project, so when people walk in, they really - it has hardwood floors on some of the units, some of the existing hardwood floors in the building are saved," said Hutchison. "A lot of the exposed brick is going to remain exposed,"

What is still an exposed sore of the city is the partially demolished Mirro plant complex down the road. Nickels says the city is in the process of condemning the property to take ownership. The hope is to have demolition start some time next year, when the Artist Lofts are scheduled for completion.

The developers say - if everything goes according to the schedule - people will start moving in by late spring. Veterans, and their families, are being targeted as preferred residents.

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