Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Newaukee’s The Beacon Gets State Grant

Company still pursuing other financing for its Walker's Point development.

By - May 19th, 2020 01:35 pm
504 W. National Ave. Photo from NEWaukee.

504 W. National Ave. Photo from NEWaukee.

NEWaukee has landed a $250,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to support its plan to redevelop the former Schlitz Tivoli Palm Garden in Walker’s Point.

The grant will support the $4.4 million project, which the social architecture firm hopes to complete by 2021.

The City of Milwaukee would act as a pass-through agent for the grant. The Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee approved its acceptance Tuesday morning.

NEWaukee CEO Angela Damiani said the firm, like many others, is facing drastic challenges related to the pandemic. “Upon reflection of that, it even more fortified our resolve,” said Damiani of the organization’s commitment to social connection.

In a normal year, the organization would be coming off YP Week and heading towards summer programming include the NEWaukee Night Market, Urban Island Beach Party and a host of other events. It’s now pivoting to providing much of that online.

The company will redevelop the building at 504 W. National Ave. into a hub for future events alongside meeting and office space. Andi Sciacca will operate a cafe in the building’s first floor with a “plant forward” menu.

Damiani and Chief Idea Officer Jeremy Fojut formed Place Based Development and partnered with developers JoAnne Sabir and Melissa Goins of Freedom Endeavors on the project. Sabir previously partnered with Juli Kaufmann on the Sherman Phoenix marketplace and Goins has developed a number of affordable housing projects throughout the city.

The partners have a contract to purchase the building from its longtime tenant, the Milwaukee Ballet, for just over $1 million.

The city has committed a $25,000 White Box program grant to the project. The program provides funds to build out commercial spaces for future tenants.

Other funding for the project comes from crowdfunding, equity investments and conventional financing. Jennifer Bartolotta announced an investment in the project in April. Fojut told Urban Milwaukee the firm is still working to finalize its financing package.

Design on the project is being led by The Kubala Washatko Architects. General contracting will be led by Greenfire Management Services.

NEWaukee, currently located in an office at the CityCenter at 735 in East Town, will be the anchor tenant in the Walker’s Point building alongside its sister companies Newance, a talent retention and attraction firm, and Rev Collective, a startup focused on empowering and growing female leaders. Remaining office space and commercial space in the approximately 17,000-square-foot building will be available for lease.

For more on the project, see our coverage of its announcement in January.

Note: Jeramey Jannene serves on the NEWaukee Advisory Board.

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Related Legislation: File 200056

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