Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Clear Channel Agrees to Move Billboard

Site overlooking I-43 in Bronzeville with development potential now split by billboard.

By - Jul 9th, 2019 12:39 pm
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2225 N. 7th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

2225 N. 7th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

The Common Council approved a land swap Tuesday to relocate a billboard on the western edge of Bronzeville, creating a contiguous 1.3-acre site overlooking Interstate 43.

The move comes after the city marketed two currently split parcels along N. 7th St. for sale in August 2018, but did not receive any formal responses to its request for proposals. Developers were asked to consider negotiating with Clear Channel to accommodate the relocation of the billboard that divides the two parcels.

The billboard, located at the site since 1986, would be relocated from a 4,950-square-foot site along N. 7th St. to the pentagonal development site’s western edge along the angled N. 8th St. overlooking Interstate 43. The resulting change would leave an empty 1.3-acre rectangle of land along N. 7th St. between W. North Ave. and W. Garfield St.

“The last time this property went through RFP, I received three or four phone calls from developers that were interested in the property,” said Clear Channel real estate representative Jerry Falvey at a hearing last week on the land swap. “We become a roadblock when they try to figure out: do they purchase our property? Do they incorporate our sign in the future?”

Department of City Development real estate specialist Matt Haessly said developers had considered how to incorporate the billboard into a building, but Falvey said that triggered concerns about sightlines. DCD and Clear Channel mutually agreed to relocate the billboard closer to the freeway, and out of the way of a potential building.

Former NBA player and Milwaukee Bucks coach Terry Porter proposed an entertainment complex on the site in 2007. “As we all know that development, unfortunately, didn’t come to fruition,” said area Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs when the land swap was before the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee.

“Not only is this parcel of land a gateway to Bronzeville, which is seeing a continuous growth in development, its proximity to Downtown, surrounding neighborhoods and I-43 make this a prime investment location,” said Coggs in 2018 when the parcel was originally listed.

“We hope to relaunch an RFP that doesn’t have the confusion of the middle of the parcel being owned by Clear Channel in the near future,” said Haessly.

Acceptable uses for the site, according to the 2018 RFP, included a boutique hotel, conference center, mixed-use development, theater or “uses that contribute to or exemplify the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District.”

The city acquired the majority of the site, most recently a car wash, from Paul Bachowski in 2007 via condemnation for $128,000 and later paid an additional $42,550 in a settlement.

The property was marketed for sale for $200,340 in the 2018 RFP.

Development activity has picked up recently just east of the site. A large project encompassing the redevelopment of the historic Garfield Street School as apartments, new Griot apartments and new home for America’s Black Holocaust Museum opened last year. Pete’s Fruit Market grocery store opened in 2017. A number of other projects are in the works, including a $100 million redevelopment of the former Schuster’s department storeapartment building and medical clinic, along with the long-term possibility the streetcar could extend into the neighborhood.

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Related Legislation: File 190402

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