Urban Stables Take Shape
Project combines police horses with equine therapy for veterans and children.
A long-vacant, four-acre site on the western edge of Bay View is being transformed into a one-of-a-kind use for Milwaukee.
Construction, which began in April, is progressing quickly on the 24-stall facility that will be split evenly between the two users. Morton Buildings, which specializes in pole barns, has already constructed the frame for two structures on the site that will eventually merge into one 27,191-square-foot complex. Two outdoor riding areas are planned alongside the barn as well as a community room.
The $5.65 million project is being led by single-purpose non-profit Milwaukee Community Equestrian Center (MCEC). The development costs have been offset by donations and MCEC will rely on a $100,000 annual rent payment from the city for operating support. The city sold the property for $1 to help facilitate the development.
The property, originally used by a glass bottle manufacturer, was acquired by the city in 1981 through property tax foreclosure. It’s bordered to the east by heavily-used Canadian Pacific railroad tracks and to the west by the southern leg of the Kinnickinnic River Trail. The southern portion of the site was sold to Klement’s Sausage Co., which has a facility stretching all the way to S. Chase Ave. A number of sewer and access easements run through the site, making substantial building development very difficult.
To deal with environmental issues caused by its past use, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $200,000 cleanup grant to help address soil and groundwater contamination.
Retired Mandel Group executive Dick Lincoln is serving as MCEC’s owner’s representative on the project with support from real estate attorney Bruce Block. The real estate veterans negotiated a complicated lease with the Milwaukee Common Council and city officials.
The Rotary Club of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Downtown business improvement district served prominent roles in the fundraising effort. MCEC is receiving $1.5 million in financing from non-profit, community-oriented lender Forward Community Investments.
The City’s Mounted Patrol
The city previously leased horses from a private operator located on E. National Ave., before buying the horses outright in recent years and leasing space at the cost of $5,000/month in Racine County. Police captain Diana Rowe said when factoring in travel costs, the cost ended up at approximately $100,000 annually.
Rowe sees the facility as a way to better connect the police to the city. “It really is more than just a stable,” said Rowe to a city committee in 2018. “Right now there isn’t a lot of space for the Milwaukee Police to engage the community. Clearly, we need to do more of that.”
The police horses are back on E. National Ave. temporarily for $1/month plus the cost of building improvements because the Racine lease expired. The E. National Ave. site is not seen as a permanent option because of the condition and small size of the facility.
The mounted patrol is seen as an effective policing strategy according to Rowe because an officer mounted on a horse is equivalent to up to 12 officers on foot with regards to crowd control.
Five officers and a sergeant are assigned to the mounted patrol in the 2019 budget at a cost of $470,655.
Renderings and Site Plans
April 2019 Site Photos
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