Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Lurie’s Bay View Proposal Revived

Plus: MPS unveils new schoolyards, Cambria hotel opens, Athea expanding chemical plant

By - Oct 27th, 2019 02:28 pm
Updated proposal for 2700 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. block. Rendering by RINKA.

Late 2018 proposal for 2700 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. block. Rendering by RINKA.

Developer Scott Lurie has resubmitted a zoning change request to the Department of City Development for two five-story apartment buildings on the 2700 block of S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Much of the development would be built on a large vacant lot and the site of a vacant, one-story building.

After two contentious public meetings held by Alderman Tony Zielinski in late 2018, the developer downsized the buildings and submitted a petition to change the zoning on 11 parcels, some of which were occupied by homes, but later withdrew that request.

Zielinski told Urban Milwaukee that negotiations with his office were ongoing as of May, after the request had been withdrawn.

Very limited information is available from Lurie’s new submittal, but one thing is clear – the footprint is smaller. Three properties currently occupied by rental properties, two duplexes and one single-family, along S. Herman St. have been removed from the proposal.

The buildings at 2717, 2721 and 2732 S. Herman St. will no longer be demolished. The change appears to address the concern raised by some project opponents that the proposal encroaches on the homes located off the S. Kinnickinnic Ave. commercial corridor.

Lurie has not commented publicly on the new deal. Zielinski, who is not running for re-election as part of his mayoral campaign, confirmed to Urban Milwaukee that he remains opposed to the deal.

The zoning change would require Common Council approval. Architecture firm RINKA is designing the complex.

News of the applications resubmittal was first reported by the Bay View Compass.

Downsized Proposal Renderings

Original Renderings

Cambria Hotel Opens

From left to right: David Noel, General Manager, Cambria Hotel Milwaukee Downtown; Jason Rae, President & CEO, Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce; Tara Wurtz, Director of Sales & Marketing, Cambria Hotel Milwaukee Downtown; Janis Cannon, Senior Vice President, Upscale Brands, Choice Hotels; John T. Murphy, Chairman and CEO, Murphy Development Group; Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee; Julie Richter, Chief Financial Officer, Concord Hospitality; and Mark Laport, President and CEO, Concord Hospitality. Image from Concord Hospitality.

From left to right: David Noel, General Manager, Cambria Hotel Milwaukee Downtown; Jason Rae, President & CEO, Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce; Tara Wurtz, Director of Sales & Marketing, Cambria Hotel Milwaukee Downtown; Janis Cannon, Senior Vice President, Upscale Brands, Choice Hotels; John T. Murphy, Chairman and CEO, Murphy Development Group; Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee; Julie Richter, Chief Financial Officer, Concord Hospitality; and Mark Laport, President and CEO, Concord Hospitality. Image from Concord Hospitality.

The four-story, 132-room Cambria Hotel opened in Westown this week.

The new hotel is located at 503 N. Plankinton Ave. on a corner lot at the intersection of W. Clybourn St. and N. Plankinton Ave.

The hotel was developed by Murphy Development Group and is managed by Concord Hospitality.

The hotel is part of the Choice Hotels hotel group. The Cambria hotel is Choice’s only hotel in downtown Milwaukee and the only Cambria in the Milwaukee area. The hotel chain operates a number of hotels near Milwaukee’s airport, including a Sleep Inn & Suites, Comfort Suites, Mainstay Suites and Rodeway Inn & Suites.

The hotel is the first non-parking structure to rise from the block bounded by W. Clybourn St., N. 2nd St., W. Michigan St. and N. Plankinton Ave. in decades. The only structure on the block is the former Gimbels parking garage, with the rest of the block used for surface parking.

We last covered the project in December 2018.

Athea Expanding in Rufus King Neighborhood

The Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (NWSCDC) will back the expansion of Athea Laboratories with an $800,000 loan. Capital for the loan comes from a grants from the Community Economic Development program of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The company is located at 1900 W. Cornell St. near N. Green Bay Ave. and Interstate 43. The businesses’s Athea Packaging division manufactures private label chemicals and specialty wipes.

NWSCDC will make a business loan to help Athea invest in new equipment and fill growing orders said the non-profit in a press release. Athea expects to create 40 new jobs in the next three years. The company previously said it had 130 employees in Milwaukee.

“The Athea project is exciting because it’s right in our neighborhood. These are quality new jobs, located in walking distance from the Garden Homes and Rufus King neighborhoods” said Andrew Haug, resource development manager at NWSCDC.

MPS Celebrates Four Revamped Schoolyards

Milwaukee Public Schools officials celebrated the successful redevelopment of four schoolyards on Thursday morning. Included in the latest round of the program are Burdick Elementary School (4348 S. Griffin Ave.), Hawley Environmental School (5610 W. Wisconsin Ave.), H.W. Longfellow Community School (1021 S. 21st St.) and Starms Early Childhood Center (2616 W. Garfield St.).

The changes, which came at a cost of approximately $1.6 million, are intended not just to provide a better environment for children to play and learn, but also to provide environmental benefits through the management of stormwater runoff and reducing the urban heat island effect.

The program, known as “Building Green & Health Schools,” was first piloted at Bradley Tech High School (700 S. 4th St.) and Escuela Vieau K-8 school (823 S. 4th St.). The revamped schoolyards green infrastructure is also intended to provide educational opportunities for students.

Ten additional schools have schoolyard overhauls planned that are in the planning or fundraising phase. The next round is expected to cost $3.4 million.

In addition to MPS, funding for the program has come from the MPS Foundation, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, City of Milwaukee, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Sustain Our Great Lakes Program, Fund for Lake Michigan, Reflo, Funders’ Network–Partners for Places Grant, Burke Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, private donations, in-kind contributions and school fundraising.

The district has over 160 schools.



Downtown Hotels Rising

Three new downtown hotels have begun to rise in East Town

Hotel developer JR Hospitality, in partnership with Hawkeye Hotels, is working to open the trio of hotels with 331 rooms planned between them. The firms intend to develop and operate Holiday Inn Express (116 guest rooms), Home2 Suites by Hilton (115 guest rooms) and Tru by Hilton (100 guest rooms) hotels at the southwest corner of E. Michigan St. and N. Jefferson St.

The two new buildings are being designed by hotel architecture specialist Base4. Adjoining hotels have become increasingly popular in recent years because of their ability to share back-of-the-house functions, like laundry or waste disposal, as well as parking.

Construction on the southernmost building, to be used by the two Hilton properties, has reached the third floor, half of the building’s planned height. The one-story concrete pedestal is all that’s visible on the northern building. Stevens Construction is leading the general contracting on both buildings. Learn more.

Construction Photos


Strauss Deal is Dead, But How Did It Die?

It was another busy news week for Strauss Brands and the company’s planned move to Century City. On Monday, in the wake of opposition from Alderman Khalif Rainey, the company announced it wouldn’t move to Century City.

Late Monday afternoon, Mayor Tom Barrett called a press conference and called the council’s behavior surrounding the proposal “malarkey.”

Urban Milwaukee editor Bruce Murphy identified a new player in the deal’s death oh Thursday – state senator and mayoral candidate Lena Taylor. Learn how Taylor played a role in the proposal’s demise.

New Design for Proposed East Side Homes

Developer Tim Gokhman has changed designs for his plan to build three homes on vacant lots on N. Terrace Ave. in the city’s North Point Historic District.

Gokhman, who would build a home for himself, another for business partner Ann Shuk and a third for sale, is changing plans after his earlier proposal had run into opposition from the Historic Preservation Commission. The commission has oversight over the proposed homes because they are to be built within the boundaries of the historic district.

The developer, director of New Land Enterprises, appeared before the commission twice this summer with plans for the first home. At the commission’s September meeting, chair Marion Clendenen-Acosta read a letter from the commissioners into the record that called for Gokhman to consider changing material types, create a “strong vertical emphasis” and adjust the amount of fenestration to match the other homes.

Gokhman, in September, said that the submitted design, a distinctly modern two-story home with a flat roof and porte cochere, would have difficulty adapting to the commission’s desires. “There are certain things this design just can’t do,” said Gokhman. “You can’t just throw a pitched roof on this design. If we were to include a pitched roof we would have to start over, which is potentially an avenue.”

The developer has now gone in that direction, starting over with an entirely new design. The new, 3,670-square-foot design is a brick-clad structure with a pitched roof that presents itself as a three-story home. The porte cochere is maintained, but is now supported on both sides instead of cantilevering over the driveway. A rear garage, not visible from the street, would include a green roof and the home would have solar panels. See the new design.

Washington DC Non-Profit Wants to Rehab City Homes

A Washington D.C.-based non-profit hopes to successfully purchase and redevelop city-owned homes acquired through property tax foreclosure.

Home Preservation Exchange, led by former DC Mayor Sharon Pratt, is pivoting its model from buying and reconfiguring distressed mortgages to partnering with local non-profits and for-profit investors to redevelop homes.

“Our thought is to do a proof of concept,” Pratt told Urban Milwaukee in an interview. “We just want to try to see if it can work.”

The organization would partner with a Milwaukee non-profit, potentially Southside Organizing Committee or Journey House, a for-profit investor and a construction firm to redevelop homes. Pratt said the organization hopes to redevelop two city-owned homes and find owner-occupant buyers or place the home into rent-to-own contracts. Learn more.

City Moves to Close Slumlord Loophole

City officials are moving to close a loophole exploited by landlords who buy city-owned homes at below-market rates, promise to be an owner-occupant and instead lease them out as rental properties.

The move comes in response to the July revelation that minister and hairstylist Hosea Bates had purchased a home in the Concordia neighborhood for $7,500 that the city invested $128,000 for repairs through the Housing Infrastructure Preservation Fund and was using it as a rental property.

“This is borderline criminal. This is borderline theft. $128,000 invested, we sell it for $7,500 and it’s back to a rental,” said Ald. Robert Bauman in July. He said it should have been obvious that Bates, who gave a Glendale address as his prior home, was not going to live in the property.

The preservation fund, used on approximately 50 homes in the last 10 years, is designed to improve neighborhoods by rehabilitating city-owned properties acquired through property tax foreclosure and selling them to owner-occupants who become stabilizing influences in the neighborhood.

The response from the Department of City Development and independent City Attorney’s office is to create a new addendum to the sale agreement to guarantee inspection rights to the property, instituting a sworn affidavit that the buyer will reside in the home and requiring the homeowner to provide proof of residence at the property.

Bauman pushed to make the penalties higher, using a formula to determine the damages. Read on.

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