Jeramey Jannene
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Hmong High School Rises on Northwest Side

$30 million project represents latest expansion for well-regarded charter school.

By - Aug 14th, 2020 06:40 pm
Hmong American Peace Academy massing plan. Rendering by Continuum Architects + Planners.

Hmong American Peace Academy massing plan. Rendering by Continuum Architects + Planners.

Construction is moving right along on a $30 million expansion of the Hmong American Peace Academy in the city’s Lindsay Park neighborhood on the far northwest side.

The charter school, founded in 2004, now has over 950 students. The expansion will expand the footprint of the building currently used for grades sixth through 12. The new 98,000-square-foot, 39-classroom building will serve as the high school while the existing building to which it will be attached will be used as a middle school.

HAPA, as the charter school is known, acquired the 14.5-acre property at 4601 N. 84th St. from Milwaukee Public Schools in 2017 for $2.77 million. It had leased the property previously. MPS previously housed its Samuel Morse Middle School in the 165,000-square-foot building.

Two additional buildings are operated by HAPA, Denver Campus (8200 W. Denver Ave., grades three through five) and Happy Hill (7171 W. Brown Deer Rd., K4 through second grade).

The expansion received $24.11 million in financing support from the Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority with bonds underwritten by Robert W. Baird & Co.

The well-regarded charter school intends to consolidate its operations on the property eventually with a new elementary school constructed on the west side of the property. All three buildings would be connected with a central courtyard.

The school is led by executive director and founder Chris Her-Xiong.

Continuum Architects + Planners is designing the approximately 100,000-square-foot addition. VJS Construction Services is serving as the general contractor.

We previously covered the project because of a third partner, a little known offshoot of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, called Travaux.

The entity, which was formed to serve as a manager for rehabilitation and redevelopment of HACM properties, was given a entrepreneurial mission. It’s now serving as the owner’s representative for the charter school on the development.

“This is the kind of entrepreneurial activity that we hoped Travaux would start to develop,” said Travaux board member Dan McCarthy when the board met on February 6th to review the contract. “I want to applaud the team.”

Travaux is lead by Scott Simon. The entity is also proposing a 32-story mixed-income housing tower Downtown that is intended to serve as a model for how to provide affordable housing.

The new high school isn’t the only one rising in the city. Cristo Rey is also building a new high school on the city’s South Side.

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