A Washington Heights Ribbon Cutting
Music school opens in formerly vacant building on 47th and Vliet.
The West End Conservatory is excited about their new home. “It means everything to us to continue to be here on the west side,” said co-founder Neil Davis at a ceremonial opening held Tuesday morning at school’s new home at 4716 W. Vliet St.
The 111-year-old building has been absolutely transformed since I toured the project in early December. What was a vacant storefront is now a private music school, complete with practice rooms and a performance space.
“It’s always exciting when you have an entrepreneur that understands neighborhoods,” said Mayor Tom Barrett at the brief ceremony. “We want to thank you for continuing to make these investments.”
Barrett’s support was echoed by area Alderman Michael Murphy. “This was a dilapidated piece of property,” said the long-time, west-side council member. Murphy, who chairs the city’s Arts Board, praised Pattee for not only redeveloping the property, but finding an arts-focused tenant for a street that is increasingly a creative hub.
A music school wasn’t Pattee’s vision when he bought the property. “Our original plan was to convert to a retail space because Vliet is a booming retail street.” But Pattee, who said he prefers to find creative uses for his space, was happy to execute the buildout for the school. “It’s a really good feeling when you bring a blighted building back,” he says.
Davis and his business partner, Isaiah Joshua, relocated their music school from 5500 W. Vliet St. to Pattee’s building. The pair founded their business six years ago in an apartment on N. Humboldt Ave. And while their bread-and-butter is training kids on a variety of instruments, they offer adult education as well. Murphy joked that he hopes his daughter doesn’t take up the drums, and Barrett admitted he doesn’t play an instrument, so there’s probably not much chance you’ll find the two city officials, both west siders, jamming some day at the new school.
Pattee spent about $120,000 on the project. To support the effort, he secured a $5,000 white-box grant and $15,000 facade grant from the city. City records indicate Pattee acquired the building for $36,000. The second floor of the building contains an apartment that Pattee has leased out.
Pattee has two more projects underway. Rehab work is nearly complete on a two-story building at 211 W. Florida St. That building will be anchored by the studio of one of Milwaukee’s most high profile artisans, Reggie Baylor. A second project, a commercial rehab of a city-owned property at 1104 W. Historic Mitchell St., is just getting underway.
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