Avenir Nearly Ready for the Future
The five-story, 104 unit apartment building is nearly ready for occupancy, the first residential development on county-owned Park East land.
“A venir l’avenir” (Fr.) “ In English: Coming soon, the Future!
More than a decade after the Park East Freeway stub was removed, the first residential development on county-owned land there is nearly ready for occupancy, just a year after ground was broken for the Avenir.
This five-story, 104-unit apartment building, developed by Wangard Partners, is the first phase of a proposed project that will ultimately occupy the entire block bounded by N. Milwaukee and N. Jefferson streets, and E. Lyon St. and E. Ogden Ave. on the Lower East Side.
The building now being finished on the block already bears the sign of the first retail tenant on the 7,000 square foot first-floor retail component of the property — a Great Clips haircut salon. It is soon to be joined by a Jimmy John’s sub shop. These stores will have considerable visibility, as they are located directly to the west of the entrance of the East Pointe Pick ‘n Save, a major retail draw. Other strip shops to the south bridge the two developments, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the East Pointe shopping center, now at the end of its life cycle, might someday be replaced by a development more like the Avenir.
That is to say, a retail area with shops below and residences above, the model used by the Avenir, and one that will increasingly be common as real estate becomes ever more precious in urban Milwaukee. A proposal for grocery stores with residential units above has been announced for the Fresh Thyme market now under construction at the North End, just down the hill from the Avenir.
On a visit Wednesday, November 19th, 2014, earth-moving machines were uncovering old foundations and other construction debris that had been buried for decades beneath a doomed freeway spur. A bundle of mixed-length rebar was hauled out of the way of the earth moving progress, while at the southeast corner of the project a crew of men worked on curb-and-gutter projects, which include the first sidewalk the west side of the street has seen since the old neighborhood was demolished in the 1970s.
Windows have been installed throughout the project, and the three street-facing facades have received their finishes of brick, precast concrete and composite panels. The west wall remains sheathed in a turquoise insulation material.
Inside, workers are moving through the units doing finishes; ventilation units would indicate there is some painting going on inside at this time as well.
Next year should bring some considerable changes to the neighborhood as the first residents move in. The development is within two blocks of Sage on Jackson, Avante Apartments, and the East Terrace Apartments, all of which have seen robust leasing (the Sage has no vacancies at this time). Avenir will be more than twice as large as all of these developments combined, yet there are no pre-recession jitters about it filling up. Likewise, The North End, which is on its third phase, is seeing robust business. The streetcar will only help things on this corridor.
With the improvements underway, the site will begin generating tax revenue for the first time since the late 1960s. The 54,984 square-foot property is assessed at $1,649,500 for the land, or $30 per square foot, providing tax revenue of about $48,000. The improvements have not yet been assessed.
The project is part of Tax Incremental Financing District #48, which will receive the tax revenues until such time as the bonds issued for the project are retired.
In September, the ownership of the Avenir was transferred to (and spread among) Park East Two LLC, Park East Development LLC and Park East Holdings, LLC. All are located in the offices of Wangard, the project’s developer.