Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

New State Office Building Project Takes Major Step Forward

Plus: A rundown of this week's real estate news.

By - Feb 14th, 2021 12:54 pm
27th and Wisconsin development site. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

27th and Wisconsin development site. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The proposal to develop a new office building for the State of Wisconsin at the southwest corner of N. 27th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. took a major step forward this week.

The state Building Commission approved funding to acquire the full-block, 2.63-acre site for $2 million and allocated an additional $2 million for site preparation.

The building would replace the Milwaukee State Office Building, 819 N. 6th St., with most employees relocating to the new facility. Conceptual plans approved by the city include a 200,000-square-foot office building with a 680-stall parking structure.

But the money to actually construct the building still doesn’t exist.

Governor Tony Evers proposed spending $98.5 million to advance the project in his 2019-2021 budget, but the Republican-controlled Legislature stripped the bonding authority for the project. It left the bonding authority to acquire and clear the site. Evers is scheduled to introduce his 2021-2023 budget next week.

The non-profit Near West Side Partners (NWSP), led by Keith Stanley, has spent four years and approximately $1.5 million acquiring all 17 of the parcels on the block to assemble the site according to city records. The organization is backed by the area’s anchor institutions including Marquette UniversityHarley-DavidsonMolson CoorsAdvocate Aurora Health and Potawatomi Business Development Corporation.

But a state report indicates that when all costs are factored in, the group of neighborhood stakeholders would take a financial loss on the land sale and site preparation work.

A NWSP representative estimated, in 2018, that the latter costs, primarily related to demolition, would exceed $2.5 million. But the organization has long viewed the site as a catalytic project to improve the entire neighborhood.

Then-Governor Scott Walker proposed constructing a new building in early 2018, and Near West Side Partners representatives were in attendance at the announcement. The organization’s site was ultimately selected after a request-for-proposals process.

The existing, aging office building would be sold, with Walker estimating that a developer would demolish it and leverage the site’s proximity to the convention center, Fiserv Forum and Milwaukee County Courthouse for a new development.

Over the past four years the city has assisted proposed redevelopment of the near west side site, which is bounded by W. Wisconsin Ave., W. Michigan St., N. 27th St. and N. 28th St. It sold a parcel to form the site, vacated two alleys that bisect the block and approved a zoning change that would accommodate three conceptual designs of the building.

In spring 2020 the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee secured a $150,000 grant to help demolish The Travis Building at the site’s northwest corner. “The $150,000 is just a drop in the bucket,” said RACM assistant executive director Dave Misky in an interview. He estimated that building alone would cost over $1 million to demolish.

The office building site is across N. 27th St. from another state office building, a 64,000-square-foot, privately-owned building built for and leased to the Department of Children and Families.

To the north across W. Wisconsin Ave., developer Rick Wiegand is now advancing the conversion of the former Wisconsin Avenue School, 2708 W. Wisconsin Ave., into an extended stay hotel to augment his nearby Ambassador Hotel. The project was first proposed in 2017, but was on hold for years with the delay attributed to the uncertainty surrounding the state office building project.

The northeast corner of the intersection holds a city-owned vacant lot. The city, at the behest of area Alderman Robert Bauman, bought and demolished a gas station on the site, 2630 W. Wisconsin Ave., in the past decade. The alderman called it a “radioactive site of nuisance” during a 2013 committee hearing.

Site Photos

Site Plans

Weekly Recap

THIRTEEN31 On the Rise

A new apartment building is much closer to its final form on the western edge of Walker’s Point.

Catalyst Construction has made substantial progress on developing THIRTEEN31 Place since we last covered the development in October. At that point work was effectively underground, focused on building the complex’s concrete foundation.

The four-story building will include 89 apartments, 74 of which will be set aside at below-market rates for those making less than 60% of the area’s median income.

Developer Brandon Rule‘s Rule Enterprises and Lutheran Social Services are co-developing the project.

Read the full article

City To Get $17.6 Million Federal Rent Assistance Grant

The City of Milwaukee expects to soon have $17.64 million in federal funds to dole out for emergency rent assistance.

The formula-based funds come from a new $25 billion federal program, the Emergency Rent Assistance Program Program. It was created in the latest COVID-19 relief bill.

The Social Development Commission will administer the program locally with assistance from the city’s Community Development Grants Administration office.

Read the full article

Burger King Planned for Southwest Side

A new Burger King restaurant is planned for 7501 W. Oklahoma Ave at a location that long featured a bank.

The country’s second-largest fast-food restaurant chain would replace bank deposits with flame-grilled Whoppers near the busy intersection of S. 76th St. and W. Oklahoma Ave.

The current building at the site housed a PNC Bank branch for the past decade. It was constructed in 1997 and contains 3,861 square feet of space according to city assessment records.

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Council Reduces Mayoral Power

The Milwaukee Common Council voted unanimously to curtail some of Mayor Tom Barrett‘s power on Tuesday.

The council adopted a change to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) structure that would give the mayor’s office only 90 days to fill a vacancy on the citizen-led board. After that, the Common Council President could make the appointment.

“We are trying to solve a problem, which is vacancies make it difficult for this body to operate,” said Alderman Robert Bauman, the council designee on the commission.

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McKinley School Project’s Final Design Okayed

The complicated plan to redevelop the fire-damaged William McKinley School, 2001 W. Vliet St., received its final design approvals Monday. The Historic Preservation Commission signed off on plans for the building’s exterior and four new homes to be built on the north end of the property.

The $12.6 million project centers on redeveloping the school, completed in 1885, into 35 affordable apartments for families of deployed military personnel. Four market-rate, three-bedroom homes would be built along W. Vliet St. and sold for approximately $150,000 each.

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Historic District Sought for Bay View Cottages

The sale of a small house appears to have spurred a push to designate most of a Bay View block as a historic district.

Joseph Paterick filed an application with the Historic Preservation Commission late last week to form the South Superior St. Puddlers’ Cottages Historic District. He also filed for emergency protection of the one-story, 1,397-square-foot home at 2530 S. Superior St.

The district would encompass seven homes on the 2500 block of S. Superior St.

The homes, all one-story houses, are already part of the federally-designated Bay View Historic District that was established in 1982. “As a group, these eight structures are interesting as they form the longest row of contiguous workers’ cottages that remains intact in the district,” says the 1982 application. The homes were built by the mill’s owners and sold to employees.

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Anti-Displacement Grants Double in 2020

A public-private partnership supporting long-time, low-income residents of neighborhoods surrounding Downtown more than doubled the value of its grants awarded in 2020, its second year of operation.

The anti-displacement partnership provides direct cash support to pay increased property tax bills for residents with incomes below the city median.

A total of 116 homeowners received cash assistance totaling $88,053 to pay 2020 property tax bills. Last year the partnership reported 86 homeowners received $38,356.

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City Activists Call for Rent Cancellation

On the evening of Feb. 1, as Marlene Peace, a Milwaukee resident and grandmother, stood outside the doors of S2 Real Estate in Milwaukee, her frustration rose as the temperature continued to drop.

Peace had traveled to the building hoping to help her daughter pay her rent. “I’m here because my daughter has a special needs child,” she tells Wisconsin Examiner. “So I would’ve been coming here with her, just to do this, and then they’re not even open.”

Building staff decided to lock the doors after the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union (MATU) organized a small picket on the sidewalk in front of the building. Even tenants arriving to pay rent in person were refused entry. Robert “Bobby” Penner, an organizer with MATU, said the group chose to picket S2 because of the company’s high rate of eviction filings. Penner noted that S2 Real Estate currently has more than 40 open evictions in the circuit court.

Read the full article

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