Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Urban Golf School Plans Expansion

Bridging the Gap plans to expand educational offerings at near west side facility.

By - Jul 8th, 2020 03:53 pm
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Bridging the Gap Learning Center in 2015. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Bridging the Gap Learning Center in 2015. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s unusual to see golfing in an urban area, even more so when it’s tucked into a 30,000-square-foot corner lot in one of the oldest neighborhoods in town.

But that’s exactly what takes place at the northeast corner of N. 17th St. and W. State St. in Milwaukee.

It’s “one of the more unusual sights in the city of Milwaukee,” said area Alderman Robert Bauman when a lease extension was before the Common Council’s Public Works Committee in late June.

Since 1992, Robert Byrd has led Bridging the Gap Learning Center, which includes an instructional golf facility at 1600-1624 W. State St. He told the committee that 7,000 students, including many young children of color, played golf for the first time at the facility since it opened in 2000.

Byrd is now fundraising for a $750,000 expansion of the indoor facility. The expansion would accommodate a small conference center, meeting space and a small kitchen.

The expansion is part of a plan to go beyond just teaching the game of golf. “This would allow us the opportunity to provide training in the golf business,” said Byrd.

It would build upon a small clubhouse, putting green and a 12-station, net-protected hitting area.

In addition to teaching golf, the 501(c)(3) non-profit provides tutoring services, job training and an entrepreneurial training program.

Byrd had no problem getting approval on a lease extension from the city’s legislative leaders.

“You’ve stuck at it. You’ve delivered on the promises you’ve made,” said Bauman. He said the facility has always looked very attractive.

“I feel you like you and I are close friends even though you have no idea who I am,” said Ald. Mark Borkowski. The alderman said he’s been a fan of Byrd since the non-profit leader played on Marquette University‘s 1977 NCAA champion men’s basketball team. “More importantly, you’ve stayed in the City of Milwaukee and made a commitment to our community.”

The lease extension would grant Bridging the Gap a 10-year extension with two mutual five-year extensions. There is no cost for the lease in exchange for the non-profit’a agreement to construct and maintain the improvements to the property.

The City of Milwaukee, through the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, has owned the property occupied by Bridging the Gap since 1969.

The Common Council unanimously endorsed the lease extension on July 7th.

Photos

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Related Legislation: File 200249

One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Urban Golf School Plans Expansion”

  1. Betsy Blair says:

    This sounds so wonderful. I’ve driven past the site regularly since it was built and opened. It has looked abandoned for years. I hope I’m wrong, but I thought the facility had closed years ago.

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