Jake Rostermundt Photography

Gorman & Co. has transformed a historic manufacturing facility and warehouse into 36 apartments for families and seniors earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income in the rural community of Jefferson, Wisconsin.

The initial construction of the manufacturing plant was in 1916 with additions made in later years. It is the last remaining building in Jefferson that is historically associated with Schweiger Industries, the largest upholstered furniture manufacturing company in Wisconsin post-World War II.

Jake Rostermundt Photography

The developer adapted the building to maintain its historic character as well as ensure that all units had exterior views. The interior area provides community space for residents as well as workspace and meeting space for local artists, created through a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

“Riverside Lofts is in the middle of the downtown arts district in Jefferson,” says Ted Matkom, Wisconsin market president for Gorman. “Our goal was to take an old dilapidated furniture warehouse and make it funky and cool.”

Gorman had significant support from the city, which contributed $650,000 to the development to help create a levee wall to remove the project from a flood zone near the Rock River, as well as a tax-increment financing loan. The $10.4 million Riverside Lofts also utilized state and federal historic tax credits as well as low-income housing tax credits.

Partner Lutheran Social Services provides various supportive services for the residents.

The development leased in about six months. “It took a while for people to understand that this type of housing was really reserved for low-income folks,” Matkom adds. “It shows you that there’s a huge need for apartments in the rural setting. Our next phase will be market-rate in that community.”