Michael Horne
House Confidential

Sue Black’s Cape Cod Cutie

The Milwaukee Wave owner and former parks director lives modestly near the Waukesha county line.

By - Apr 12th, 2013 02:07 pm
Sue Black's Wauwatosa Home

Sue Black’s Wauwatosa Home

After a visit last week to the home of Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, House Confidential pays a call on another sports team owner, Sue Black, of the Milwaukee Wave.

They couldn’t make a team player out of her, so Sue Black made herself into a team owner instead. Her firing in August 2012 as parks director by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele was followed by news that Black was an unsuccessful finalist for a similar job in Dallas.

Then, in February 2013 came the surprise news that Black had been appointed President and CEO of the Milwaukee Wave indoor soccer team. Black’s aw-shucks personality and commanding camera presence was a good fit for a team that needed a face and a voice.

The community had barely digested this announcement when it was followed this month by news that in addition to her executive roles with the team, Black was now the sole owner, having purchased the interest of Jim Lindenberg, who bought it in 2009.

So, instead of Dallas, Black is staying in the community, where she lives in the City of Wauwatosa in a home she bought nine years ago today, on April 12th, 2004.

Black’s home is on the very westernmost block of Wells Street, up there in five-digit address territory, where the once grand street sputters to an end in a single dead-end block, isolated on three sides by railroad tracks, quite near the city’s western border where it succumbs to Brookfield’s suburban banality.

Black’s 1-1/2 story brick Cape Cod was built in 1936 and has 754 square feet of living space on its first floor, along with a 565 square foot half-story upstairs. This cozy 1,319 square feet of living space is perched on a full basement. Natural gas is piped into the home, providing the forced air heat that keeps Black cozy in winter. A central air-conditioning system cools the home from the torrid blasts of summer.

Black has three bedrooms and two full bathrooms under roof, and plenty of camping space outdoors if she and some chums feel like pitching a tent. Black’s demesne is fully a .34 acre lot — quite large for the city — with 70 feet of frontage on W. Wells St. It extends 210 feet deep toward Potter Street, and not far from the anonymous graves of Potter’s Field, where the county’s poor and unknown dead were buried from 1872 to 1974. Wauwatosa is rich in history! There is room on the lot for a 528 square foot frame garage, and the home also offers a comfy 56 square foot enclosed porch.

Black bought the home for $227,000 (it’s valued at $227,200 today). Attanasio spent over $6 million for a 9,000 square foot pad at the University Club Tower, which is located some 115 blocks east, at the easternmost block of Wells Street. Small town, ain’a?

Property taxes on the Black residence are a net $5,445.33, which are paid on the installment plan, with final payment due on May 31st, 2013. But Sue Black is not one to tempt providence — she made the final payment on her property taxes on March 22nd 2013, over two months before the due date.


  • Style: Cape Cod
  • Subdivision: Assessment Subdivision #60
  • Neighborhood: This isolated district is the largest neighborhood in Wauwatosa with no neighborhood association. For city planning purposes, it is associated with the Bluemound West Area.
  • Zoning: “AA Single Family”
  • Walkscore: 60 out of 100, “Somewhat Walkable.” There is a Taco Bell .21 miles away.
  • Transit Score: 39 out of 100, “Some Transit.”
  • Commute: It is about nine miles by car to 510 W. Kilbourn Avenue, Suite B, the Milwaukee Wave front office location. It was only a mile-and-a-half from her old job with the parks department, even shorter if she cut through the County Innovation Park.
  • Street Smart Walkscore: 61 out of 100, “Somewhat Walkable.”
  • Size: 1,319 square feet
  • Year Built: 1936
  • Assessed Value: $227,000
  • Property Taxes: $5,445.33

About Sue Black

Black grew up in Brookfield, just across the border from her current home, and then in Fond du Lac after her family moved there. As a child she loved the outdoors, and would often head to the park as a refuge when family problems occurred. Her parents were divorced when Black was in her teens.

After graduation from UW-Madison, Black got a job with the state parks department, and gradually rose in the field of recreation, becoming operations manager for the Dane County Park System, succeeded by a job as chief of operations for the Arizona State Parks. But she kept her eye on Wisconsin, and jumped at the chance to become state parks director in 1997. She became close to Governor Tommy Thompson, who once called her “the best parks director in the country.”

But two state insiders told Urban Milwaukee that Black would often go over her bosses’ heads to Gov. Thompson and ask for changes in the parks budget that DNR had fashioned. She also cultivated Republican and Democratic legislators and parks support groups, building a power base that she would lobby for changes in the proposed parks budget. When Scott Hassett took over as DNR director in 2003, he checked with other department heads at DNR and found widespread resentment of Black for the way she would undercut budget decisions to get more money for the parks — which meant less money for other departments. Black was removed from her position and offered a job handling special projects.

Soon after this, Black was hired by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker as County Parks director and by most accounts did a good job. But she apparently had a rocky relationship with Walker, who gave her no merit raise for seven straight years. That was followed by a brief honeymoon of sorts when Chris Abele became county exec, but as Bruce Murphy has reported, Black often operated independently and undermined Abele’s dictums, not unlike the way she operated at the state. She was fired by Abele last August but remained a popular figure, particularly with business leaders in town, who apparently helped her land on her feet as top dog of the Milwaukee Wave.

How Milwaukee Is It? She lives 8.7 miles straight up Interstate 94 to Milwaukee’s City Hall.

Categories: House Confidential

One thought on “House Confidential: Sue Black’s Cape Cod Cutie”

  1. Peeps says:

    Horne the peeper strikes again!


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