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Underwriters Exchange Building Transforms Into Streetcar Flats

Sean Ryan, a reporter for the Milwaukee Business Journal, recently met with Paul Dincin, managing partner of Catapult Real Estate, to discuss the purchase of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Underwriters Exchange Building and its transformation into Streetcar Flats.

Streetcar Flats has achieved remarkable success just weeks after opening its doors to residents. With 85% of its 75 apartments already leased, the development has exceeded expectations for the $12 million restoration project.

Dincin purchased the nearly century-old former Underwriters Exchange office building in 2018. At that time, the nine-story building located on North Broadway was only half occupied.
Despite consultants warning him about the challenges of obtaining a federal historic designation to access tax credits for the conversion into apartments, Dincin and his team persevered. Sitting in the beautifully restored lobby of the Streetcar Flats, Dincin expressed his satisfaction with the successful outcome.

Beneath the surface of the building, originally intended to serve as regional offices for national insurance firms, lay a wealth of untapped potential. Dincin’s historic consultants made exciting discoveries during the restoration process. As they tore up the carpets, they uncovered stunning terrazzo floors in the lobby and hallways. Unlike many of Milwaukee’s industrial buildings with damaged hardwood floors, the floors of the Underwriters Exchange offices were often in excellent condition beneath the carpet. Additionally, intricate plaster trim was concealed behind the drop ceilings, waiting to be revealed.

The building’s design played a crucial role in the successful transformation. The existing layout allowed for the preservation of central corridors and large windows, perfectly aligned with the vision for the new apartments.

View Streetcar Flats’ Amenities

“It honestly just seems like luck, a blessing,” remarked Dincin. “The geometry of the building, being a perfect rectangle to start with, was what really made a difference.”

The significant gap of nearly four years between the purchase and closing of the property was primarily due to Catapult’s efforts to address the leases of the existing tenants in the building. Additionally, they had to collaborate closely with consultants to secure the property’s historic designation, ultimately allowing them to access valuable tax credits.

In January 2022, Catapult successfully closed on its construction loan with Old National Bank, marking the beginning of the $12 million restoration project. The first apartments in Streetcar Flats became available to tenants in May, with the leasing process handled by Founders 3 Commercial Real Estate Services.

View Streetcar Flats’ Floor Plans

Currently, contractors are in the final stages of completing the larger three-bedroom apartments located on the top floors of Streetcar Flats. Excitingly, 14 move-ins have already been scheduled for July, showcasing the strong momentum of the project.
According to Dincin, most renters in the building are young professionals. Streetcar Flats primarily offers studio and one-bedroom apartments, eight two-bedroom units, and three larger three-bedroom options. The monthly rental prices begin at approximately $1,100 for the studios and can go up to $3,500 for the three-bedroom apartments.

View Streetcar Flats’ Virtual Tours

Dincin emphasized that the tenants at Streetcar Flats are financially stable, and the rental rates are affordable.

As Streetcar Flats continues to achieve high occupancy rates, Dincin expressed his ongoing search for additional buildings in downtown Milwaukee. While his Chicago-based firm primarily serves as an owner’s representative consultant for projects owned by other companies, they occasionally take the lead on their own ventures, such as the successful development of Streetcar Flats.

“I’ve been actively seeking more buildings downtown,” Dincin revealed, highlighting his enthusiasm for expanding their portfolio in this vibrant location.

Read: Sean Ryan’s Article on Milwaukee Business Journal (paywall)

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About Streetcar Flats

Streetcar Flats is Downtown Milwaukee’s Newest apartment community located at 828 N Broadway. Streetcar Flats incorporates modern luxuries with the vintage charm of our hundred-year-old landmark building. What was once the Underwriter’s Exchange Building is now Streetcar Flats, your future home in Downtown Milwaukee, perfectly located along The Hop’s M-Line, Milwaukee’s new streetcar system. 

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Rental Criteria

INCOME
One Adult – Gross income must meet or exceed 3 times the apartment rental rate. Roommates – The combined gross income must meet or exceed 3 times the apartment rental rate. If you are self-employed or retired, you must provide your most recent tax filing or consecutive bank statements from the past six (6) months to verify your income.

CREDIT HISTORY
Your credit score must meet or exceed six hundred fifty (650). You will automatically be denied rental if any monies are owed to a previous landlord or management company. If you owned a home and it has been foreclosed upon, you will be denied rental. If you have been sued in an attempt to obtain a monetary judgment against you within the last five (5) years you will be denied rental. If you have a monetary judgment against you that is older than five (5) years you must have legally satisfied that judgment or you will be denied rental.

PREVIOUS HOUSING
A verifiable history of apartment rental or mortgage payments. If there is no verifiable housing and you are a first-time renter, a Guarantor will be required, along with a security deposit of one (1) month’s rent. Any previous eviction judgment is an automatic basis for rejection of an application. Any negative reference from a prior landlord will cause you to be denied rental.

OCCUPANCY STANDARDS Maximum limits are as follows:

  • Studio: 2 individuals maximum
  • 1 Bedroom: 2 individuals maximum
  • 2 Bedroom: Not to exceed 4 individuals with no more than 3 unrelated adults
  • 3 Bedroom: Not to exceed 6 individuals with no more than 3 unrelated adults o
    • Children under the age of 2 are not included in the calculation


GUARANTOR(S)

Should an applicant not qualify in terms of credit history, the applicant, at the discretion of the landlord, may have the lease guaranteed by another party. Guarantor(s) must meet or exceed the rental criteria as stated above.

Each Guarantor must provide sufficient income verification equal to three (3) times the amount of the rent to guarantee the apartment rental.

CRIMINAL BACKGROUND
If applicant has been convicted of illegally manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance as defined in sec. 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) their application will be denied.

If applicant is subject to a state lifetime sex offender registration program their application will be denied.

If applicant has not been otherwise disqualified based on the above factors, and the applicant has been convicted of a felony or released from custody or supervision for a felony conviction, whichever occurred later, within the last six years, or a misdemeanor within the last three years, and the crime shows a demonstrable risk to tenant safety and/or property, their application may be denied after consideration of the nature and severity of the crime, the applicant’s age at the time of the conduct, and the amount of time that has passed since the criminal conduct occurred. Other factors may be considered on a case by case basis. Applicant shall provide any mitigating information or documentation that he or she would like to be considered regarding any criminal convictions.

*If management is unable to verify any information on your rental application, including but not limited to your prior rental history and employment, you will be denied rental. If you misrepresent your application information, you will be denied rental.

Date Started Using: May 16, 2023

One Month Free on a 12-Month Lease on our 3-Bedroom units.