UWM Gets Okay to Partially Demolish Columbia Hospital
Plus: Council could delay convention center expansion, MSOE expanding nursing facilities.
The State of Wisconsin Building Commission approved $348.1 million in projects on Thursday. The 10 projects include everything from drinking water improvements at a prison in Fox Lake to a new fieldhouse at UW-Milwaukee. Funds to partially fund new youth correctional facilities to replace the troubled Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools were approved, drawing praise from Governor Tony Evers.
Locally, the Building Commission advanced UW-Milwaukee’s remodeling and renovation plans at the Northwest Quadrant Student Health Services facility. Much of that work will include the demolition of the oldest portion of the former Columbia Hospital.
City Could Delay Wisconsin Center Expansion
A file pending before the Common Council would rescind necessary support for the project to advance. After approving the project plan on a 14-1 in February, why reverse course?
Alderman Robert Bauman, currently listed as the lone sponsor of the legislation, said its a matter of concern that the process is moving too quickly. He’s a member of the Wisconsin Center District board along with colleagues Milele A. Coggs and Ashanti Hamilton. City Comptroller Martin Matson, who will retire in May, is also on the board as are appointees of outgoing Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. The Governor and Mayor also make appointments to the 17-member board
“This financing will exceed the public share of the Arena and comes close to the public funding for Miller Park in actual unadjusted dollars. This is a huge financial obligation. We all spent months negotiating and discussing the Arena public financing and Miller Park financing once design and project costs were known,” said Bauman.
Bauman said the three council members are scheduled to meet with district CEO Marty Brooks on Monday. The council could rescind the authorization on Tuesday at its regularly scheduled meeting, but doing so straight from the council floor would require 10 of the 15 members to vote in favor of doing so.
MSOE Expanding Nursing Program, Labs
The Milwaukee School of Engineering and Rogers Behavorial Health announced a new Pyschiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program Monday. The new degree program, augmenting the university’s 25-year-old nursing program, is intended to address the shortage of mental health care providers.
“The laboratory expansion will include a new simulation space that will be adaptable to a variety of settings including board rooms, clinic, home care and community. There also will be dedicated areas for students to practice their skills and complete performance tests,” said the university in a press release. “The additional lab space will help MSOE stay true to its commitment to small class sizes and guaranteed clinical placement in the sophomore year.”
The expansion would add 2,200-square-feet of space to the Ruehlow Nursing Complex on the first floor of the university’s campus center at 1025 N. Broadway. The 25,000-square-foot facility opened in 2013.
A file pending before the Common Council would allow the university to use vacant commercial space in the base of the Viets Field parking garage as classrooms.
Quartet Nears Completion
New Land Enterprises‘ second Walker’s Point project, Quartet, is nearing completion. The firm applied for an occupancy permit for the six-story building this week, a precursor to opening the building to residents.
The 48-unit building will contain a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments at the southwest corner of S. 2nd St. and W. Mineral St. “The goal of Quartet is to provide a complement to its neighboring building,” said New Land director Tim Gokhman of the 120-unit Trio complex in a June interview. The Trio complex features a large number of studios with convertible table beds designed to maximize space.
Quartet residents will have a lounge and fitness center in their building and will also be able to use the amenities in Trio. Monthly rents in the new building will start at approximately $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment and grow to $2,600 for a three-bedroom apartment. All of the apartments will include the hydronic heated floors first used in Trio as well as high-end finishes and custom cabinets according to New Land. Read more.
Second Phase of Avenir Apartments Advancing
Construction on the second phase of the Avenir apartment complex is poised to get underway in the coming months. Weidner Investment Services applied for a building permit to construct a 64-unit apartment building at 418 E. Ogden St.
The project would build off of the 104-unit first phase that opened in 2014 at 1425 N. Jefferson St. Completed by Wangard Partners, the building represents the first phase of a three-phase effort that is eventually intended to fill the entire block bounded by E. Lyon St., N. Jefferson St., E. Ogden St. and N. Milwaukee St. The site was made available following the demolition of the Park East Freeway spur.
AG Architecture is serving as the project architect on the building. The Wauwatosa-based firm also designed the first building in the complex.
Stevens Construction, according to city permits, has been selected to serve as the general contractor.
Five Libraries to Add Green Infrastructure
Five of the Milwaukee Public Library‘s branch libraries will get exterior green infrastructure improvements intended to improve accessibility, reduce stormwater runoff and provide new opportunities for educational programming.
The Atkinson, Bay View, Center Street, Washington Park and Zablocki branches will all receive new, smaller parking lots as part of the $1.6 million project. MPL officials are coordinating with the city’s Environmental Collaboration Office on the project.
Assistant library director of operations Jennifer Meyer-Stearns said the improvements were triggered by a review of the branch’s compatibility with modern Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Meyer-Stearns said the issues found weren’t major, but provided an opportunity to rethink the aging parking lots. “The parking lots were also in pretty poor condition,” said Meyer-Stearns.
The end result will be the removal of 5,430 square feet of pavement, installation of 14,257 square feet of porous pavers intended to allow rainwater to drain into the ground, the addition of bioswales, 3,000 square feet of green roof infrastructure, new trees, native landscaping and educational, interactive signage. The improvements will mirror similar work performed to the recently-rebuilt Tippecanoe branch at 3912 S. Howell Ave. Read more.
City Plans Walker’s Point Water Trail
A new initiative aims to build on Milwaukee’s connection to its rivers and lake through the creation of the Water Current Tour walking trail.
The trail, centered on Walker’s Point, will link the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and inner harbor on E. Greenfield Ave. with the Global Water Center and Reed Street Yards water-focused business park at N. 2nd St. and W. Freshwater Way. Design concepts introduced in a preliminary report include everything from a new beach and interactive public art to educational signage and wayfinding signage.
Three different design teams generated concepts for everything from projecting a light-up mural on the side of Rockwell Automation‘s headquarters and installing artistic lighting under bridges in the area to building a beach on a vacant lot at N. Water St. and E. Seeboth St. and creating a permanent Water Centric City exhibit at the Wisconsin Center.
But work would start with more affordable projects, including wayfinding and signage, said ECO director Erick Shambarger in an interview. “I think we could get some pretty good stuff for $150,000,” said Shambarger in describing the vision for the first phase. Learn more.
Police To Lease Two Buildings During DNC
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. Read more.
Emergency Housing Program Stalls
A $300,000 budget amendment intended to provide emergency housing to at-risk populations appears insufficient to pay for the 10 multi-family properties it was hoped to, but there remains interest in advancing the effort.
Developers Must Monitor Homes on Hold
At any given time, the City of Milwaukee typically has approximately 1,000 properties in its inventory that it acquires via property tax foreclosure. And with that comes a host of challenges, from shoveling snow and mowing the grass to illegal dumping and squatters.
A new city policy will turn prospective bulk home purchasers into the city’s eyes and ears on their future properties.
The Department of City Development (DCD) puts homes on “hold” for developers that are seeking to buy multiple properties and redevelop them. Two such proposals recently received Common Council approval. FIT Investment Group and Gorman & Company will both buy over 20 properties if awarded low-income housing tax credits and turn them into state-regulated affordable housing.
DCD real estate services manager Amy Turim said the contract with prospective buyers will now ask them to monitor the properties for signs of break-ins or other problems. The policy suggestion came out of the Common Council’s 2020 budget deliberation process. Learn more.
What To Do About Century City?
A Common Council committee spent almost an hour Tuesday morning debating its options to address the ailing tax incremental financing (TIF) district used to develop the Century City business park. Everything from a hemp farm to a $13 million nearby home reinvestment program was discussed.
The city needs to eventually repay $24.75 million in debt used to prepare the 84-acre business park near N. 30th St. and W. Capitol Dr., but property values in the district have actually fallen since it was created in 2009, eliminating any incremental revenue that was originally scheduled to pay down the debt.
The district is far larger than the business park itself. It contains over 1,000 properties, approximately 800 of which are residential. Many of the homes are now worth less than they were in 2009, dragging down the combined value of the district. Learn more.
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Read more about Wisconsin Center expansion here