New State Office Building Project Takes Major Step Forward
Plus: A rundown of this week's real estate news.
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.
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 University, Harley-Davidson, Molson Coors, Advocate 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Burger King Planned for Southwest Side
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.
Council Reduces Mayoral Power
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.
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.
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.
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.
City Activists Call for Rent Cancellation
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.
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- Republicans Reject Evers Entire Capital Budget - Shawn Johnson - Mar 17th, 2021
- Evers’ Capital Budget Spends $2.4 Billion - Shawn Johnson and Rich Kremer - Feb 22nd, 2021
- Near West Side Partners Applauds Governor Evers’ Proposed Funding of State Office Building in Near West Side - Near West Side Partners, Inc. - Feb 22nd, 2021
- Mayor Tom Barrett released the following statement: - Mayor Tom Barrett - Feb 22nd, 2021
- Plats and Parcels: New State Office Building Project Takes Major Step Forward - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 14th, 2021
- Gov. Evers Announces Building Commission Approves Projects - Gov. Tony Evers - Feb 11th, 2021
- Plats and Parcels: State Grant Will Support 27th and Wisconsin Demolition - Jeramey Jannene - May 3rd, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: No New State Office Building Until 2022? - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 4th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: State Office Building Gets Boost - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 27th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: “Catalytic” West Side Project Coming? - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 10th, 2020
Read more about New State Office Building here