Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Edison Middle School Would Become 64 Apartments

Common Council approves proposal. Plus: A recap of the week's real estate news.

By - Oct 11th, 2020 02:24 pm
Former Edison Middle School. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Former Edison Middle School. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A proposed affordable housing development for Milwaukee’s Old North Milwaukee neighborhood got its first approval from a Common Council committee on Tuesday.

Gorman & Company would buy the vacant Edison Middle School, 5372 N. 37th St. from Milwaukee Public Schools and redevelop it into apartments. Built in 1928 and expanded in 1956, the school has been vacant since 2008 according to a city report. It contains 44 classrooms and 152,240 square feet of interior space. It was originally built as North Milwaukee High School.

The $20 million project would create 64 units of affordable housing inside the school. The redeveloped building would consist of 32 one-bedroom units and 32 two-bedroom units. A set number of units, subsidized by low-income housing tax credits, would be included at below-market rates for individuals making less than the area’s median income.

“We are really bullish on MPS properties that are historic,” said Gorman’s Ted Matkom when the proposal was before the council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee. Gorman would pay $600,000 for the property.

The affordable housing developer would add 11 three-bedroom townhomes to the site. Matkom said the design would be “pleasing to the neighborhood.” A neighborhood meeting was held in June.

“I really like the fact, kind of like what we are doing at McKinley School, we are putting residential on the hard street versus just ending it in a parking lot,” said Matkom. “It kind of hides the parking lot and adds three-bedroom housing which is in dire need in that area.”

The company has executed a number of school conversions in Milwaukee, with environmental remediation work on the McKinley School project starting in the coming weeks.

Matksom said the full-block, 3.5-acre Edison School property presents opportunities for a playground and stormwater retention. “Everything we like to see,” said Matkom.

Gorman was the sole bidder for the property following a state-mandated two-year period when the property was offered only to other education operators. “The interest that other people had in it never came to fruition,” said area Alderman Ashanti Hamilton.

“I think the neighborhood is very comfortable with the presentation Ted made,” said Hamilton of the neighborhood meeting. “I think this would [make] a positive impact in moving the neighborhood in the right direction.”

The building was slated to house Milwaukee Excellence charter school in 2015, but the school ended up opening at 4950 N. 24th St., the former McNair Elementary School.

The proposed redevelopment is two blocks from the Villard Commons building that is currently under construction.

The City Plan Commission previously recommended approval of the proposal. The council committee unanimously endorsed the sale and a zoning change to accommodate the development.

The land sale and rezoning request are scheduled to go before the full Common Council on Tuesday. Gorman would still need to secure low-income housing tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority in addition to other financing, including historic preservation tax credits, to advance the proposal.

Gorman will apply for the tax credits by December 2020, with the annual award announcement expected in spring 2021.

The school was designed by the firm of Van Ryn & DeGelleke.



Weekly Recap

Summerfest, Northwestern Mutual Building New Children’s Park

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. and Northwestern Mutual, through its Foundation, today announced a major capital revitalization project for the Northwestern Mutual Children’s Theater & Playzone, which has been in place at Henry Maier Festival Park since 2006.

A premiere destination for families within the region, the new Northwestern Mutual Community Park will continue to be a featured area at Summerfest, as well as the cultural and ethnic festivals.  In addition, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. will make the Northwestern Mutual Community Park available to the public during non-event days, encouraging the broader community to access this new amenity throughout the summer.

Priorities of the redevelopment project include updating the area with accessible playground surfaces and completely new play equipment, as well as reconfiguring the area for adaptable activation areas and exhibit spaces.  As the expectations of families have changed over time, the project intends to better meet those needs through new family restrooms and a flexible and accessible stage area for enhanced, family-focused programming delivered in an environmentally-conscious design.

Read the full press release

Wisconsin Center Gives Final Approval for $420 Million Expansion

Timing is everything.

And when it comes to the $420 million expansion of the Wisconsin Center, that’s true in more ways than one. “We cannot wait,” said Wisconsin Center District CEO Marty Brooks at a meeting Thursday morning.

The district board approved the convention center expansion in April as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled conferences across the globe and decimated sales tax revenues on which the district relies. A safeguard added to the authorization called upon the board’s governance committee to approve the deal as bond markets stabilized.

The committee gave that approval Thursday after being briefed on some key timing considerations

Read the full article

Inside the Huron Building

The 11-story Huron Building, 511 N. Broadway, serves as a bridge.

Its location, along E. Clybourn St. and Interstate 794, makes it a bridge between the Historic Third Ward and East Town neighborhoods.

Its stone cladding helps it bridge the city’s history. The stone comes from the same quarry as the adjacent Mackie Building, built 140 years earlier. J. Jeffers & Co. redeveloped the Mackie, and adjacent Mitchell Building, in the past decade. The Huron serves as a capstone to the transformation of the block.

Developer Joshua Jeffers showed the building off Monday afternoon, hosting members of the media for a small tour and then an afternoon event for project stakeholders and prospective tenants.

Read the full article

Shepard Fairey Mural Going Up Downtown

Milwaukee will get a large voting rights mural by Shepard Fairey, famous for his Hope image of Barack Obama, after all.

Fairey, with local support from Wallpapered CityBlack Box Fund and Patti Keating Kahnproposed a mural dubbed “Voting Rights Are Human Rights” on the south side of Keating Kahn’s Railway Exchange Building, 229 E. Wisconsin Ave., in time for the Democratic National Convention in August.

But the Historic Preservation Commission rejected the mural, explicitly because the commission had not advanced guidelines to allow such a piece. A letter, submitted by 130 people, objected to Fairey, a nationally-known artist, getting the private commission over a local artist of color. The historic commissioners said they couldn’t consider the letter, and one of the commission staffers said they didn’t remember a letter with so many signatories.

Fairey will now paint a modified version of the mural on the north side of the Colby Abbot Building, 759 N. Milwaukee St., also owned by Keating Kahn and her husband Chuck Kahn. The new location is not locally historically-protected, avoiding the need for a public meeting.

Read the full article

Historic Church Getting New Parish Center, Renovated Monastery

A 150-year-old Catholic church at the intersection of N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. and W. Brown St. is receiving an overhaul that will add a parish center and unify friars living across the city under a single roof.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish, 327 W. Brown St., will gain a parish center as part of the 18-month project that kicked off in June. The 16,800-square-foot building will be located on the north side of the historic church on what was most recently a surface parking lot. It will have seating for up to 200, a warming kitchen, office space and an outdoor community terrace.

The parish center, for which foundation work is currently underway, will have its walls made of Cream City bricks reclaimed from the recently demolished St. Francis Convent Chapel of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. The chapel, demolished in 2019, was located just outside of Milwaukee proper in suburban St. Francis.

The multi-building church complex sits on the border of the Brewers Hill and Halyard Park neighborhoods.

Read the full article

WHEDA CEO Works for the Underrepresented

Joaquín Altoro has spent most of his professional career serving Milwaukee communities.

But for the last year as executive director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, also known as WHEDA, Altoro has been making his mark on the entire state.

By providing loans and grants to first-time homebuyers, farmers and entrepreneurs, WHEDA is responsible for much of the affordable housing created in Wisconsin.

“The most common question I ask myself is: How do I use my position to create a greater impact?” Altoro said.

Read the full article

Local Groups Hosting National Urbanism Conference

A new conference will explore the future of cities.

Hosted by NEWaukee and commercial real estate association NAIOP Wisconsin, Urban Spaceship will take place on November 9th.

“Cities all around the country are asking the question, ‘what’s next?’ We can look at this moment and not act or we can choose to build more resilient and equitable cities post-coronavirus,” said Jeremy Fojut, co-founder and chief idea officer of NEWaukee, in a statement.

Read the full article

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Related Legislation: File 200599

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