Garver Feed Mill

After a long delay, a developer has secured financing for the reuse of the historic Garver Feed Mill near Olbrich Botanical Gardens on the East Side.

Developers have secured final financing for the $19.8 million redevelopment of the landmark Garver Feed Mill on the East Side, a huge step in bringing the long-delayed project to reality.

The city, which chose Baum Development over three other suitors for the project in April 2015, has extended several deadlines for Baum to secure financing and meet other milestones for the project, which would transform the crumbling Garver building and its surrounding 5 acres into an artisan food production facility and “microlodging” units averaging 250 square feet for short-term rental.

This week, city staff informed the Board of Estimates, which has been setting the deadlines, that Baum had secured critical federal New Market Tax Credits, which will be used with a bank loan, equity, historic tax credits and grants to fund the project. The board instructed staff to continue to work with Baum to move the project forward.

“We’re a lot closer than we were,” said Dan Rolfs, city community development project manager. “There’s still a lot of work to do. We will continue to diligently pursue getting this thing done in a timely fashion. It’s within the realm of reason. Without cash you’re talking pipe dreams.”

Among the remaining tasks, the city and Baum must still complete a development agreement, which will include the sale of the Garver building, a ground lease and construction of a storage building, Rolfs said.

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Mayor Paul Soglin said he can’t express the relief and satisfaction he will feel when all final documents for the project are completed. “We’re not there yet,” he said.

David Baum could not be reached for comment.

The $19.8 million project has two main pieces, a $14.4 million building renovation and much of the rest for the microlodging units. Baum recently received word on the second of two New Market Tax Credit allocations to help fund the $14.4 million building renovation, Rolf said.

The city selected Baum over three other companies — Alternative Continuum of Care, the Alexander Co. and Ogden & Co. — that responded to a city request for proposals to reuse Garver. Each offered unique uses and costs ranging from $19.8 million to $39.8 million.

The two-story, Industrial Romanesque feed mill, 109 S. Fair Oaks Ave., was built in 1905 and named a city landmark in 1994.

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