Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

18 Southside Homes Being Demolished for New School

St. Augustine Preparatory Academy building new elementary school.

By - Jan 3rd, 2021 05:39 pm
Homes being demolished on the 2500 block of S. 5th Pl. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Homes being demolished on the 2500 block of S. 5th Pl. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

St. Augustine Preparatory Academy is clearing most of a city block, including 18 homes, to build its new elementary school.

It’s just the latest move for the new voucher school that has reshaped Milwaukee’s Lincoln Village neighborhood over the past five years.

Backed by Husco International founder Gus Ramirez, the K4-12th grade Augustine Prep opened in 2017 at 2607 S. 5th St. and graduated its first senior class in 2020. Ramirez donated $40 million towards the $53 million cost of developing the first phase which includes a turf soccer field, Olympic-sized indoor pool and 225,000-square-foot building.

A second building is now planned across W. Harrison Ave. from the first.

The new building, to be used for K4 through fifth-grade classes, is planned to contain 32 classrooms, a gym, cafeteria and underground parking. Korb + Associates Architects is leading the design. The firm also designed St. Augustine’s first building.

The school’s website currently reports a student body of 1,350. School officials told the Common Council in November 2019 the new building will allow that total to grow to approximately 2,000.

The new 68,000-square-foot building, part of a $30 million expansion plan, will cover most of a block bounded by W. Arthur Ave., W. Harrison Ave., S. 5th St. and S. 5th Pl.

But much of the site is currently covered by homes built between 1900 and 1910. Rams Contracting, on behalf of the school, pulled raze permits in November to demolish seven homes, most of which are duplexes, and four garages. It demolished 11 homes in the year prior.

An affiliate of the school has an agreement to pay the city $500 each for three vacant lots, 2548, 2552 and 2556 S. 5th Pl., that the city acquired in property tax foreclosure. The tax-exempt school is required to make an annual $20,000 payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) as part of the land sale agreement.

City records indicate the school paid approximately $1.6 million for the parcels that form the new site.

The last sale occurred on November 2nd. Esperanza Camarillo sold the property at 2520-2522 S. 5th Pl. for $105,000. She acquired the duplex from the city in 2016 for $1,000, with her purchase being profiled by MilwaukeeNNS.

There are two properties in the contiguous block that city and state records indicate St. Augustine has not acquired.

A mid-block residence, 2540 S. 5th Pl., is owned by Sofia Lopez Cerna and Jesus Gamino and assessed for $70,500. City records indicate they acquired it for $1,000 in 2011. Homes on each side of it are being demolished. A site plan submitted to the city in 2019 shows it as excluded from the development.

A corner-lot duplex at 2566 S. 5th Pl. is owned by David Fowler. Renderings of the new school depict it as still standing. The property, directly across the street from the first building, is assessed for $58,500. City records indicate Fowler, a Greenfield resident, has owned it since 2007.

Included in the 18 demolitions are a number of properties north of Augustine Prep’s proposed development site. Only one home on the block, at 2511 S. 5th St., is owned by the school and not subject to a raze permit. The house is not contiguous to the other properties, but is boarded up and registered as vacant. Eight privately owned parcels, including one acquired by the city in property tax foreclosure, remain at the north end of the block.

Assembling land for the original building also involved demolition, though much of that site was disused industrial land. The school was built on an eight-acre site that once housed a train yard for the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad, and more recently, a trucking facility. It also included an industrial property. In 2019 seven homes along the south side of W. Harrison Ave. were demolished and the underlying land incorporated into the school’s parking lot.

The site is bordered to the east by Interstate 43/94. The new school is scheduled to open in 2022.


2019 Renderings and Site Plan

Properties Acquired and Demolished

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2 thoughts on “Plats and Parcels: 18 Southside Homes Being Demolished for New School”

  1. Mingus says:

    Again, the taxpayers are going to have to shell out tens of millions of unaccountable dollars to St. Augustine’s for Mr. Ramirez’s vanity hobby of saving children from the public schools and promoting his own views of religion and society.

  2. Barbara Richards says:

    Destroying single family housing does not seem like a school with the community in mind…more a focus the dollars directing planning and development.

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