Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

190 Apartments for Sherman Park

$60 million, multi-phase development planned for former factory near 33rd and Center.

By - Oct 10th, 2017 03:14 pm
33rd and Center Site. Images from City of Milwaukee.

33rd and Center Site. Images from City of Milwaukee.

A new development team is planning a major redevelopment on the city’s near northwest side. Que El-Amin, Mikal Wesley and Rayhainio Boynes are planning a three-phase redevelopment at the northeast corner of W. Center St. and N. 33rd St. The first phase of the project will include 55 units and affordable office space for up to 12 businesses and non-profits. The entire project has an estimated cost of $60 million.

The $15.5 million first phase of the project will include unique amenities for residents, especially compared to other area apartments, including a small skate park and putting green. El-Amin calls the project “a community within the corridor.”

El-Amin and Wesley are lifelong Milwaukeeans and graduates of the Associates in Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) program. Joining them is Boynes, better known to Milwaukeeans by his stage name, Ray Nitti. Boynes, who runs Flye Entertainment, notes that “I am using the influence I have to bring resources to the project.” Flye Entertainment will move into the office space in the project, he says.

Boynes told the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee that his team is also working with TRUE Skool and Urban Underground to move into the project’s office space. He stated that “we want to create a space where non-profits that typically have the same goals can have a space to collaborate in.”

The committee unanimously approved rezoning of the batch of properties that form the development site. The project will next advance to the full Common Council.

The development team has been working on the project for over a year, and cites the Marquis Lofts in Houston and Stacks Lofts in Atlanta as examples of projects that have dramatically transformed neighborhoods. They hope for the same at 33rd and Center, a largely industrial area at the eastern edge of the Sherman Park neighborhood.

The development team may need to come back for an additional zoning change for the site depending on their final plans. According to Vanessa Koster of the Department of City Development, the developers need a zoning change from “Industrial Heavy” and “Industrial Light” to “Industrial Mixed” to increase their odds of getting low-income housing tax credits. Housing and office uses are permitted uses under the Industrial Mixed designation, but not under Industrial Heavy or Light.

The up-and-coming developers have partnered with local architecture firm Continuum Architects + Planners to lead the design on the complex. Continuum will assist the developers with an application for historic preservation tax credits, which must be done on a tight timeline because of a major cut to the program by Governor Scott Walker.

At a hearing last week El-Amin told the City Plan Commission that “whether or not we get the state [historic preservation] tax credit the project will still work.” El-Amin also told the commission that his group has approached nearby Master Lock, asking the company to consider purchasing their tax credits for higher than the standard rate; Master Lock would get the tax credits it could use to lower its taxes and the money if pays for them could be used by the developers to help finance the development. It would be a way for the company to thereby invest in its neighborhood and give its employees nearby places to live, El Amin noted.

The complex of buildings was originally built for Briggs and Stratton. They are currently owned by Jonas Builders. According to city records, the oldest building on the city dates back to 1906, with the entire complex containing 380,946 square feet of former industrial space.

The zoning change applies to parcels at 3212 W. Center St., 2748 N. 32nd St., 2758 N. 33rd St. and 2727 N. 32nd St.

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