City, State Selling Site Near Train Station
Alderman wants to see transit-oriented development.
A long-vacant site across the street from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station will soon hit the market.
The parties would jointly market the approximately one-acre site for up to one year.
The lot is most recognizable for what rises high above it, a large, three-sided billboard owned by Clear Channel Outdoor. Any future development would have to accommodate the sign, which is highly visible from Interstate 794, because of a long-term lease between WisDOT and Clear Channel.
Historically, the site has housed a number of industrial or warehouse uses. WisDOT acquired the site in 2004 for $2.3 million, demolishing the buildings on site, as part of the Marquette Interchange project.
City records indicate the complex of buildings formerly on the site dated back to at least 1915, originally built for a predecessor of the Palmolive Company. An industrial skywalk connected the four-story-tall complex to the warehouse still standing across the street and was used by the soon-to-be-defunct Boston Store when the company owned both buildings. The complex was owned by Allied Glove when WisDOT acquired it for the massive highway project. The land was included in a proposed on-and-off ramp connecting to Plankinton Ave. as Bruce Murphy reported for Milwaukee World in 2001, but the proposal was rejected.
The building across N. 5th St. that was formerly connected via a skywalk is now being used for just the thing Bauman doesn’t want, personal self-storage.
The property moving from tax-exempt public ownership to private ownership would be a major boost to a struggling tax-incremental financing district that provided $6 million for the conversion of the former Milwaukee Road depot into the Milwaukee Intermodal Station in 2005.
The district was well behind in recovering its costs from incremental property tax revenue before the city shifted funds from the massively overperforming Beerline B TIF district. The station district is approximately $20 million behind its anticipated property value growth, owing in large part to the inability of the private station operator to lease out office space in the building and the lack of ancillary development around the train station.
The area isn’t likely to remain dormant much longer though. The Hop, the city’s streetcar starter system, is on schedule to begin operating and connect to the train station later this year. And a major redevelopment plan for the United States Postal Service complex at 345 W. St. Paul Ave. is pending, contingent in large part on whether USPS decides to execute lease extensions. Chicago-based R2 Companies acquired the site for $13.1 million in 2015.
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