Client story

Central Standard Craft Distillery combines historic charm and modern appeal

JLL helped the award-winning distillery complete an ambitious historic renovation, creating a safe, inviting and memorable experience


16,200 square feet


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Project management­
Pre-site due diligence­

“Our partners at JLL created a cohesive and simplified project plan for Central Standard Craft Distillery’s new home. By providing local market expertise and picking the right partners, JLL proved instrumental in helping complete a complex modernization project, while celebrating the historic character of the building.”

Andrew Lasca, Associate Vice President, Principal, HGA

Since 2014 Central Standard Craft Distillery has been winning over cocktail aficionados with its ingeniously crafted, locally distilled spirits. Having established the brand as a Milwaukee mainstay, distillery leaders set out to expand on their motto—“Crafted to Gather”—by opening a new, larger location where its growing customer community could gather, complete with a spacious restaurant, bar and events space and scenic rooftop patio.

Central Standard found the ideal location to realize its vision in a historic 16,200 square-foot, three-story commercial building that was a full seven times bigger than its previous space. The distillery then turned to JLL for its project and development expertise to bring the historic renovation to life, from start to finish.

The challenge: Preserve historic character, while solving structural challenges—amid COVID-19

To modernize the building and create the destination experience Central Standard leaders envisioned, the project team needed to address structural challenges of the long-vacant building. The aging foundation system was built with wood tiles, and would need to either be expertly modified or completely redone.

Maintaining the historic nature of the building was also important to the distillery, and would require a range of approvals—particularly for the addition of a rooftop deck overlooking the city.

And project leaders needed to meet those needs while also navigating industry impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included gaps in funding and a sluggish, unpredictable supply chain for material procurement.

Reimagining a 147-year-old building with project expertise and creative thinking

Working in close collaboration with HGA architects and technical engineers, JLL verified the foundation system of the building, including obtaining test fits and opening up the basement floor. Together the team was able to identify and implement a solution that secured the building without necessitating a complete re-build of the entire foundation system.

JLL and project partners also worked diligently and with ingenuity to obtain necessary historic approvals while meeting current building codes. For example, since the rooftop deck had only one exit and stairway, the project team worked with the city to obtain a variance for use of the exterior stair.

The project team managed costs and stayed ahead of supply shortage procurement issues in creative ways, too, including opting for custom-built furniture and working with a range of local upholstery vendors. JLL facilitated a value engineering process with contractors to remove unnecessary scope and find alternative solutions to help maintain project momentum. Additionally, 85% of vendors involved with the renovation project were local, helping support the Milwaukee economy.

An inviting mix of distinctive spaces to gather in a reimagined building

Since opening in August 2021, Central Standard’s Crafthouse & Kitchen gives customers a tantalizing menu not just of culinary creations and craft cocktails, but of spaces as well.

Patrons can mingle in the open-concept ground floor tasting room or head up to the Aviary, the now iconic rooftop patio where they can soak in panoramic views of downtown Milwaukee. The new 32x72-foot event space, The Mix, is open for weddings, parties and corporate gatherings, and includes a catering kitchen, bridal suite and bar made with salvaged material. The third floor includes office space intended for future tenants, providing a future revenue source for business.

Throughout Central Standard’s reimagined historic building, the beauty of the past comes alive with modern flair, thanks to strong collaboration with trusted project partners.