Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Public Museum Seeking Environmental Cleanup Funds

Will be used to support demolition of one three warehouses on future museum site.

By - Apr 15th, 2021 06:37 pm
1340 N. 6th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

1340 N. 6th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee Public Museum, in partnership with the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, is seeking a $150,000 state grant to support the environmental cleanup and demolition of structures on the site of its proposed future home.

The $240 million project would yield a new 230,000-square-foot-facility for the natural history museum and Betty Brinn Children’s Museum at the northeast corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave.

The site assessment grant, if awarded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, would be used for the demolition of a 31,956-square-foot, one-story building at the northwest corner of the L-shaped development site.

“WEDC requires a local government entity to be the application,” said RACM senior environmental project coordinator Mat Reimer in explaining the city’s involvement to members of the authority’s board on Thursday afternoon.

The building on the one-acre site, 1340 N. 6th St., was built in 1969 according to assessment records, but before that the site was used as a haymarket and later a municipal market.

“Most recently the eastern portion of the parcel was occupied by First Stage,” said Reimer.

The western portion of the building is vacant following a 2009 flood. At the time it was home to Bucketworks, an incubator that housed, among other tenants, the first office for Urban Milwaukee.

The much earlier uses have left behind filled land that needs to be remediated if a new structure is constructed. “It’s low-level contamination typical of sites in Milwaukee that have this fill,” said Reimer.

The museum, through Historic Haymarket Milwaukee, LLC, paid $8.1 million in February for three warehouse properties that form the larger 2.4-acre site.

Two other warehouses remain and would not be subject to the grant.

“The ultimate plan is to demolish each of the warehouses,” said Katie Sanders, chief planning officer for MPM.

The grant is a small piece of the funding the museum will ultimately need to construct the new facility.

Governor Tony Evers inserted $40 million in state capital funding for the project into his proposed 2021-2023 budget, but a state board struck his entire capital borrowing plan. The Joint Finance Committee could reinsert all or a portion of the funding before sending the budget to the full Legislature in the coming months.

The museum paid $3.1 million for the 49,319-square-foot property at 1340 N. 6th St. owned by James T. Barry III, $2.5 million for the 21,392-square-foot-property at 1310-1312 N. 6th St. owned by Daniel Druml and $2.5 million for the 26,151-square-foot property at 520 W. McKinley Ave. owned by Jennifer Bartolotta.

The properties have a combined assessed value of $3,085,600.

The board unanimously approved seeking the pass-through grant.

Last year RACM made a successful application on behalf of Near West Side Partners for $150,000 from WEDC to support the demolition of The Travis Building on the 27th and Wisconsin development site. The property has been selected for a new state office building, but similar to the museum had its funding struck.

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