Saturday open house will give public an inside look at newly renovated Port landmark
For the past year, Port Washington residents have watched the former Lueptow’s Furniture building in downtown take on a new look as the Boerner Mercantile Building.
This Saturday, they get their chance to see the renovations up-close as building owners Daniel and Marie-Anne Ewig, building tenants and contractors host an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Guided tours will be offered every half-hour, giving visitors a chance to see the changes made to the 24,000-square-foot building at 211 N. Franklin St.
“It’s a chance for the community to get a better sense of the building and its businesses,” Daniel Ewig said, noting there will be no speeches or ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Ewig, a Port native who lives in New York, said he and his wife are pleased with the renovations.
“The project has been a wonderful experience,” he said. “We could not be more pleased with the result.”
People are curious about why they chose to invest in the building, Ewig said, but to him it’s an investment in the community he once called home.
“We’re always a bit surprised by the ‘why are you doing this’ question,” he said. “First and foremost, we viewed it as a good long-term investment. It’s a wonderful building on a wonderful street in a city that’s well managed.
“Given our time horizon, we never viewed it as an unusual or particularly risky investment.”
Ewig said he’s grateful to his architect, Mike Ehrlich, general contractor Gary Dickerson and “our partner tenants.”
“Nearly all of them bought into the building when it was under demolition,” he said. “It took a lot of vision to see through the wreckage and visualize a finished space.”
He also expressed gratitude to the community “for putting up with our construction over the last 12 months.”
The focus for Saturday will be on the building and tenants, Ewig said.
Many of the second-floor tenants have been moving in during the past month.
That area, called the Boerner Mercantile Studios, is home to a number of small businesses. Virtually all of the 12 available offices there are leased, as are some cubicle spaces.
It’s an ideal space for a small business, said Ehrlich, who has moved his business, 6E6S Architects, Engineers and Developers, into the building.
“I like the concept and the fact it’s geared toward start-up businesses,” Ehrlich said. “It provides the amenities I need for myself and my clients.”
Unlike his previous office, the Boerner building has a shared break room, conference room and printing area, he said.
“All the sudden I have these amenities that portray me as a professional,” he said.
And because there are a number of other small businesses — including an interior designer, mortgage broker, accountant and day trader — there’s a free flow of ideas, Ehrlich said.
“I’ve got a bunch of people here I can talk to who bring a different perspective to things,” he said.
The other half of the second floor is occupied by Lake Financial Group.
Brian Barber, a partner with the group, said the firm is moving from Milwaukee to be closer to its clients, many of whom live in the area.
“There’s a great group of people here. This building has a great vibe, and we’re glad to be part of it,” he said.
The third floor of the building, which won’t be occupied until late this year, will become home to Kuttner LLC.
The northern half of the first floor is slated to become the new home of Sweetheart Cakes.
Ewig said he has not yet rented the other half of the first floor, although there’s been considerable interest in the space.
For city officials, the transformation of the building and the addition of so many businesses into a building that had been vacant or only partially occupied since Lueptow’s Furniture closed on April 29, 2007, is a cause for celebration.
“This is exciting,” said Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development. “It’s a great renovation. It’s great to have it filled, but it’s also great to have that building revitalized.”
Reservations are required for the open house and can be made by e-mailing
Image Information: A MUCH-ANTICIPATED renovation project in downtown Port Washington will be unveiled to the public this Saturday when an open house is held at the Boerner Mercantile Building. Photo by Bill Schanen IV