Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Police To Lease Two Buildings During DNC

Locations well outside Downtown for "security-related purposes" during convention.

By - Feb 24th, 2020 05:11 pm
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Ambassador Suites. Rendering by Quorum Architects.

Ambassador Suites. Rendering by Quorum Architects.

The Democratic National Convention security zone will encompass much of the west side of downtown Milwaukee, but the police presence will extend to at least two sites far beyond that.

The Common Council’s Public Safety & Health Committee endorsed lease agreements Friday for the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) to occupy the former Wisconsin Avenue School (2708 W. Wisconsin Ave.) and a Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) property at 2425 S. 35th St. leading up to and during the convention.

The properties are being leased by the city at no cost. The city is required to pay for all utility costs at the MMSD property, which the lease indicates it will occupy starting March 1st, but none of the utility costs at the former school.

“Let’s hear what these buildings are going to be used for,” said committee chair Alderman Robert Donovan.

MPD captain Derrick Harris said the properties will be used for staging and an office for a special DNC task force.

“You’re pretty much storing equipment, places the officers can go in between shifts, so on and so forth,  places for their vehicles can go, stuff like that?” asked Donovan.

“Correct,” said Harris. “It’s far enough outside of the security perimeter that we can get people in and out quickly.”

Approximately 1,200 MPD officers will be assigned to downtown Milwaukee during the July convention, with an additional 2,800 officers supplementing the agency. That supplemental force includes officers from 106 in-state and 40 out-of-state agencies.

A hard security perimeter has yet to be announced, but a broader zone was revealed on January 17th. The city will receive a $50 million federal grant to reimburse costs related to securing the event.

The 6.4-acre MMSD property was acquired by the district in March 2019 for a Kinnickinnic River flood mitigation project in nearby Jackson Park. It was owned and used by We Energies and its predecessors for decades. An office building on the site was built in 1960 according to city records. The lease specifics that the city can occupy the property from March 1st through August 30th. Average utility costs at the property are estimated at $14,000 per month.

The former Wisconsin Avenue School, built in 1919, is owned by developer Rick Wiegand who intends to convert the building into an extended-stay hotel to augment his existing Ambassador Hotel. That project has not moved forward due to delays with a proposed state office building that would be located just across the street (on W. Wisconsin Ave.). Milwaukee Public Schools last used the two-acre property in 2007. The lease specifics the city can occupy the property from June 1st through July 31st.

The committee unanimously passed the lease agreement. It next heads to the full Common Council.

Wisconsin Avenue School Redevelopment Renderings

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Related Legislation: File 191645

More about the Road to the DNC

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