Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

A Clarke Square Groundbreaking

Unconventional partnership breaks ground on 40-unit apartment building.

By - May 3rd, 2019 06:05 pm
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Clarke Square Apartments groundbreaking. From left: Steve Mahan, Emily Burt, Eugene (Gene) Manzanet, Michele Bria, Tom Barrett, Bob McCormick, Tyna Rule, James (Jim) Mathy, Sean Lavin. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Clarke Square Apartments groundbreaking. From left: Steve Mahan, Emily Burt, Eugene (Gene) Manzanet, Michele Bria, Tom Barrett, Bob McCormick, Tyna Rule, James (Jim) Mathy, Sean Lavin.
Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Southside leaders gathered Friday morning to celebrate the start of construction of the Clarke Square Apartments.

The 40-unit complex, formed by two three-story buildings separated by Clarke Square Park, will include 10 units for young adults who turned 18 and are aging out of foster care.

“At Journey House, we believe one person can change the course of their family,” said Journey House CEO Dr. Michele Bria. “That’s why we are here today, because our young people are somebody.”

The project is part of an unconventional partnership between affordable housing developer Cardinal Capital Management and Journey House. The latter, founded in 1969 is focused on helping near southside residents move out of poverty through education, youth development, workforce readiness and family development.

“I don’t know of anyone in this city that is better at creating partnerships,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “You can work with anyone.”

True to form, the $8.5 million project relies on a lot of partnerships. Cardinal Capital secured $5.6 million in low-income housing tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. Boston Capital, a frequent Cardinal partner, is buying the credits that will provide the equity for the project. The city contributed over $500,000 from its federal allotment of HOME loan funds. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago is also contributing $600,000 from the grant program. Associated Bank is providing a loan. Milwaukee County’s Wraparound Milwaukee program will pay the rent for individuals aging out of foster care.

“The key with Dr. Bria is you just let her run,” joked Barrett.

The mayor wasn’t the only official to praise the Bria. The long-time Journey House leader received praise from Milwaukee County housing administrator James Mathy, WHEDA board chair (and Journey House board member) Ivan Gamboa and Cardinal Capital president Erich Schwenker. “It’s a magnificent thing she’s done,” said Schwenker who was wearing a tie featuring a rabbit being pulled out of a hat.

The two buildings will have a combined 20 one-bedroom units, 14 two-bedroom units and six three-bedroom units. Bria, in 2016, said that the larger units would be marketed towards the area’s predominantly Latino families that often have larger family sizes. The 30 units not included in the post-foster care program will be set aside for residents making no more than 60 percent of the Milwaukee area’s median income.

The buildings are being designed by Dimension IV Madison Design Group. Cardinal Capital’s in house team is serving as the general contractor.

Work is already well underway on the 23-unit southern building at 2331 W. Vieau Pl. A ceremonial tossing of dirt was held at the northern site at 2330 W. Mineral St. Parking will be spread between the two sites, with 39 underground stalls and six surface spaces.

As part of the development, the city sold two vacant parcels to the development team for $50,000. One of those parcels, 2331 W. Vieau Pl., housed the recently demolished and long-vacant Lao Family Center, which was severely damaged in a three-alarm fire in 2014. A vacant home on W. Mineral St. will be demolished to form the northern building site.

The non-profit has already opened two buildings, totaling 10 apartments, in previously tax-foreclosed buildings purchased from the city.

The project’s origins, according to a 2017 presentation by Bria, can be traced back to the 2009 Clarke Square plan sponsored by the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative.

The buildings are scheduled to open in 2020.

For more on the buildings, see our coverage from early 2017.

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