Affordable Housing Redevelopment for 37th Street School Gets City Funding
Plus: City assessments top 2008 values for the first time.
A long-anticipated affordable housing development got a boost from the city this month.
The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously approved the creation of a $460,000 developer-financed tax incremental financing (TIF) district to support the redevelopment of the 37th Street School in the city’s Washington Park neighborhood.
The $13.3 million project will create 43 affordable housing units for individuals ages 55 or above earning no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income. Six additional units will be leased at market rate. Within the affordable units there will be a variety of income caps and units set aside military veterans.
The school has been vacant since 2006. “Schools lay out very well for housing purposes,” said Maria Prioletta from the Department of City Development in presenting the project to a council committee. The city had first approved the property sale associated with the project in late 2017, but had extended a purchase option on the property to allow the development team to secure the necessary tax credits to finance the deal.
Heartland Housing and Community First are paying Milwaukee Public Schools $210,000 for the building, originally constructed in 1903. Under state law, the school was first made available only to other education providers for a period of two years. The 1.6-acre property is located at 1715 N. 37th St.
The project’s financing package also relies on low-income housing tax credits, historic preservation tax credits, $135,000 from the city’s Housing Trust Funds, $200,000 in city HOME funds and $645,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s affordable housing program.
Amenities in the project include raised bed gardens, a community room with kitchenette, exercise room, walking trail, outdoor patio and a laundry room on every floor. “We always knew we were going to have a community room, but we weren’t sure what people would be excited about to have in that community room,” said Heartland Housing’s Charlie Johnson. He said two neighborhood meetings revealed demand for the kitchenette and raised bed gardens. “It’s important to Heartland Housing that all of our projects have community buy in.”
As part of the city financing agreement and anti-displacement program, 20 percent of the units will be set aside for existing area residents.
The development team has also agreed to have unemployed or underemployed city residents perform 40 percent of the project’s construction work hours and hire disadvantaged small businesses to perform 25 percent of the project’s construction budget.
How is COVID-19 impacting the project? “The biggest hiccup we have run into so far is with Milwaukee Public Schools, they have a policy in place, understandably, they don’t’ want to let anyone in their buildings,” said Johnson in detailing the timing of the project to the council.
Johnson said the partners hope to close on the project in early July, delayed from a planned June closing.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
Assessments Top 2008 for First Time
Milwaukee property owners can expect to get a letter in the mail in the coming days from the Assessor’s Office. Starting Friday the office began mailing 2020 assessments and citywide they’re up over nine percent.
The assessments, which when factored in with the property tax levy, determine the property tax bill for each property. The state-governed process is driven by arms-length property sales of comparable properties and new construction.
Residential property values are up 11.95 percent across the city, according to a city news release. Commercial properties are up 5.33 percent. Industrial property is assessed by the state.
$33 Million School Rises in Clarke Square
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s new campus is rising on Milwaukee’s south side.
The 100,000-square-foot school, designed to support the quickly growing student body, is intended as a permanent home for the four-year-old Catholic high school.
CG Schmidt and a host of subcontractors are implementing the architectural plans of Bray Architects for the 7.5-acre site at 1818 W. National Ave. in the city’s Clarke Square neighborhood. The complex will include science labs and a large gymnasium as well as a soccer field with stands and a substantial performing arts space.
New Hotel Planned for Downtown
City records refer to the project as the “Adams Hotel.”
Rite-Hite Unveils Reed Street Yards HQ Design
The company would relocate its headquarters and consolidate 300 employees from around the Milwaukee area in the new facility on the north end of the Walker’s Point neighborhood. Rite-Hite manufactures loading dock equipment, industrial doors, safety barriers, industrial fans and other products for warehouse operators.
Harbor View Plaza Upgrades Highlight Freshwater Ecology
Less than a year after it opened, Harbor View Plaza has received two upgrades.
The kid-friendly park, located at the eastern end of E. Greenfield Ave. overlooking Milwaukee’s inner harbor, now features a “habitat hotel” and a harbor habitat map.
The $1.5 million park overlooks Milwaukee’s harbor and is intended to bridge the divide between the heavy industrial presence of the port and the thousands of Walker’s Point residents that live within blocks of Lake Michigan, but have no direct access to the water. It includes a 40-foot-tall lookout tower and slide made out of shipping containers, a public kayak and canoe launch, water features for kids and adults to play in, sculptural gates depicting native fish by artist James Stearns and seating to watch the activity in the port.
Brewing Becoming Rock Climbing Gym
While S. 2nd St. is quieter than usual in Walker’s Point, with many of its businesses temporarily shuttered, there is plenty of noise coming from the former Milwaukee Brewing Company brewery.
Led by general contractor Greenfire Management Services, a crew has demolished much of the street-facing facade in the past week.
The building at 613 S. 2nd St. will soon be home to an Adventure Rock climbing gym.
Despite Being “Essential,” Construction Industry Experiencing Major Delays
Although real estate construction has been deemed “essential” under the Safer at Home order from Governor Tony Evers, many projects in the Milwaukee area are experiencing delays according to a new industry survey.
Approximately 65 percent of respondents said construction projects they’re working on are experiencing delays in excess of 90 days.
The 286 survey respondents include developers, attorneys, brokers, property managers, lenders and construction professionals. The commercial real estate industry survey was conducted as a follow-up to one first circulated in late March. Professional associations promoted the survey to their members.
The results paint a mixed picture with respondents reporting relatively strong rent collections from tenants and borrowers needing loan adjustments in line with expectations, but the industry is also bracing for declining rent payments and a long-term decline in office space demand. Their expectations for how long the impact will be felt have grown.
Walnut Way Using New Dashboard to Boost Homeownership
Walnut Way Conservation Corp., a non-profit focused on the economic redevelopment of the Lindsay Heights neighborhood, is using data to develop a picture of homeownership, and the barriers that exist to it in its own backyard.
The organization is doing this using new data tools and visualizations developed by a partnership between Northwestern Mutual, UW-Milwaukee and Marquette University called the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute (NMDSI).
In 2019, a grant awarded Walnut Way access to 500 hours of data science expertise from the NMDSI. On Wednesday, the non-profit held a virtual seminar displaying its new suite of data.
Walnut Way says the data harvested through this grant will be used as another tool in its efforts to increase homeownership in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.
State Home Sales Hurt By Pandemic
For the last few years, Wisconsin’s housing market had seen the same pattern, month after month: steady home sales bolstered by strong demand, but hemmed in by a declining number of homes for sale.
Those market conditions were still in place right up until the coronavirus pandemic led to state orders to stay home and shutdowns of vast sectors of the economy.
The March figures largely reflect home sales where contracts were in place in January or February.
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