Rumblings in the Park East
Unions battle over and delay one project, another project gets a six month extension, and another is underway in the Park East.
On Monday, the County’s Economic and Community Development Committee voted to hold an updated development agreement between Milwaukee County and the development team, Wangard Partners Inc. and Park East Square, for the development of Block 26, the 2.13-acre lot in the Park East Corridor. As this project has dragged on over the years it has gone through a variety of false starts and changes, a new partner in the development team (Wangard), and now new opposition to the project.
In December 2007, the land was purchased by Park East Square for $2,725,000, and the company entered into an agreement with the County to implement the proposed development. Due to the economic downturn and numerous delays, the development agreement has been amended six times since the original project lender (whom no one seems to remember at this point) rescinded the loan commitment. On March 5th, 2012 Park East Square entered into a partnership with a local development firm, Wangard, to help move the project forward.
The project will be broken into three phases with Phase One and Phase Two being developed by Wangard, and Phase 3 being developed by Park East Square. Phase One will consist of 86 market-rate apartment units, 14,600 square feet of retail and 246 parking spaces, with a development cost of $20,285,000. Phase Two will consist of a 95-unit apartment building connected to the Phase 1 building, with a development cost of $14,750,000. Phase Three was originally going to include a hotel component but is now in flux and will be defined at later point. Construction of Phase One isn’t expected to begin until September 2013, with construction to be completely by 2015.
In an odd twist that pitted unions versus unions, multiple representatives from construction unions came to speak in support of the project. Joel Allen, Representative for Painters & Allied Trades, District Council No. 7, put it plainly: “I’m here to support the construction of this property… we need this work plain and simple.” Tom Millonzi, representing Teamsters Local 200, added “I’m in favor of the $20 million” development. Even Lyle Balistreri, President Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council, who offered sympathy for the SEIU members (“I too have lost jobs to non-union contracts”) still supported the project, saying, “right now it’s about putting construction workers to work.”
Although there appeared to be strong committee support for the project, the request was held over due to the labor dispute.
Extension for Park East Block 6E Approved
Ranier Properties II, LLC also came before the Economic and Community Development Committee, requesting a six month extension to its option for Park East Block 6E. Ranier is working on a building that would combine Park East Block 6E, a 16,000 square foot triangle on Water St., and a property Ranier controls on the Milwaukee River to build a 250 to 300 thousand square foot office tower in conjunction with the Marcus Theater parcel. Bruce Westling, of Ranier, citing an Urban Milwaukee article by Prof. Matt Trussoni, explained the importance of the site location, noting it demands a significant structure because “it’s a great vista termination.” The committee voted to approve the extension.
MSOE Project Is Under Construction
It might not be the most exciting project on record, but construction of the MSOE parking garage and soccer field is underway, adding at least one more development in the footprint of the former Park East Freeway. Much of the parking lot has been removed, and testing of soil conditions has begun. On May 4th, MSOE held a groundbreaking event to thank the Kern family, and kickoff the project. Below are photos from that event.