City Hires New Deconstruction Contractor
Spencer Renovation fired, White Glove Group hired to deconstruct, not demolish city-owned homes.
The City of Milwaukee is making yet another attempt at deconstructing, not demolishing, dilapidated homes it acquires through property tax foreclosure.
The Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) hired White Glove Group to replace Spencer Renovation & Construction. The city moved to fire Spencer in March as the firm was months behind on work and unresponsive.
But the city has been unable to get a contractor reliably working to create a marketplace. The council originally imposed a requirement in 2018 that houses built before 1929 must be deconstructed, whether publicly or privately razed, and not demolished. But bids were coming in at levels that delayed work for the city. The city suspended the ordinance and sought to hire a contractor to perform the work. Spencer, after months of delay, got underway in November 2019 to great fanfare from the Common Council. Then things fell apart and the firm was fired.
Now the city will try again for the third time.
“We have issued just this past week a notice to proceed,” said DNS operations director Thomas G. Mishefske about White Glove in comments to members of the Joint Committee on Abandoned and Foreclosed Homes Monday morning. The firm has raze permits pending for city-owned homes at 2970 N. 22nd St., 2739 N. 17th St. and 2648 N. 17th St.
White Glove was founded in 2002. The African-American-owned firm is led by London Thomas.
Alderman Robert Bauman, the council’s leading deconstruction advocate, has been critical of the administration’s implementation of the program. In 2019 he accused DNS and other city departments of spending the summer “shuffling paper” which prevented Spencer from starting. A charge which DNS levied back at Spencer.
Now Bauman says the department, via a memo to a council committee, is providing inaccurate information. “You give all these arguments against deconstruction, but you don’t mention any of the benefits,” said Bauman of Mishefske’s memo. “All you give is the negatives to the Finance & Personnel Committee.”
“We still want to create jobs don’t we?” asked Bauman.
“Those attributes are already listed in the ordinance,” said Mishefske. He said White Glove would draw down the remaining funds to do the work.
That didn’t appease the alderman, who also serves as the joint committee chair.
According to a DNS report from October 1st, there are 407 structures in the city with pending raze orders. A total of 217 of those structures are city-owned. Approximately 11% of the structures are classified as emergency (four) or high priority (33) to be razed based on their condition.
Not all structures with raze orders are ultimately razed. A house in the Merrill Park neighborhood was salvaged by a resident with city support. An apartment building in Walker’s Point is being redeveloped. A number of other structures will ultimately be repaired.
While the private industry deconstruction requirement is suspended, a handful of voluntary projects have taken place. Milwaukee Bucks guard and real estate developer Pat Connaughton led the successful deconstruction of an 1860s home on the north end of Downtown earlier this year.
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- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Hires New Deconstruction Contractor - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 12th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Moves to Fire Deconstruction Firm - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 2nd, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Deconstruction Contractor Delaying Work - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 27th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Deconstruction Delayed Through 2020 - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 14th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Deconstruction Effort Is Underway - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 7th, 2019
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Deconstruction Program Expected to Restart Next Week - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 8th, 2019
- City Starts Over on Deconstruction - Graham Kilmer - Jan 9th, 2019
- First Buildings Deconstructed Under New Law - Graham Kilmer - Jun 29th, 2018
Read more about Deconstruction Ordinance here