Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Milwaukee Strikes Out On Building New USPS Truck

Plus: A recap of the week's real estate news.

By - Jul 4th, 2021 04:09 pm
A field at the former Tower Automotive factory site in Century City. Photo taken July 26th, 2018 by Jeramey Jannene.

A field at the former Tower Automotive factory site in Century City. Photo taken July 26th, 2018 by Jeramey Jannene.

Up to 165,000 new trucks for the United States Postal Service will be made by a Wisconsin company. But they won’t be made in Wisconsin.

Oshkosh Corporation will hire more than 1,000 people in South Carolina to build at least 50,000 “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles.” The company is repurposing a 900,000-square-foot warehouse in Spartanburg, SC as part of a $155 million investment. Production is to begin in 2023.

The move is a blow to Milwaukee’s efforts to spur development in its Century City business park. And it’s the second time the city has pitched one of the USPS bidders to build the vehicle in Century City.

“Once the home of A.O. Smith Corp./Tower Automotive, Inc., this is a site ready-made for a use of this type,” said area Alderman Khalif Rainey in a press release touting the site in February. Except it’s not so ready. Oshkosh Corp. wanted an existing building. Most of the 84-acre Milwaukee business park, located near W. Capitol Dr. and N. 31st St., is vacant land.

“Unfortunately, we could not identify an existing building (in Wisconsin) that was viable for this project,” said Oshkosh Corp. executive vice president and Oshkosh Defense president John Bryant in an interview with BizTimes, the first Milwaukee outlet to report on the South Carolina selection. “However, we are pleased to share that we have chosen to establish the NGDV Technical Center right here in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The center will be staffed by over 100 team members who will provide engineering and program support for the NGDV contract.”

“Due to the strict timing requirements for the program, building a new facility was not feasible,” said Bryant. He said site selection was driven by workforce availability, manufacturing infrastructure, proximity to Oshkosh’s supply chain and access to USPS vehicle maintenance facilities.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation CEO Missy Hughes said her organization is pleased that the engineering work will continue to be done in the state. WEDC has provided millions in job-creation tax credits to the company in the past decade.

USPS Next Generation Delivery Vehicle. Image from USPS.

USPS Next Generation Delivery Vehicle. Image from USPS.

The new vehicle will replace the ubiquitous mail truck that was first made in 1987. Known as the Long Life Vehicle (LLV), it has lived up to its name. The last one was made in 2001 and the average vehicle has been on the road for over 28 years.

USPS uses approximately 190,000 vehicles, a mix of LLVs and off-the-shelf vehicles, to deliver mail.

The replacements, which will come in both battery-electric and internal combustion engine formats, will be larger, more fuel-efficient and safer. The first vehicles are expected to be produced in the second half of 2023.

Despite the failure to land a major factory, there is still a growing amount of activity at Century City. An affiliate of Good City Brewing acquired a spec building in 2018 for less than cost to build the structure. It has now landed two tenants to join it in the 53,160-square-foot facility. In addition, Talgo leases space in a former Tower building for train car rehabilitation and assembly.

The city’s Environmental Collaboration Office is also pursuing the development of a public-private partnership that would use a Century City plant to construct modules for “highly energy-efficient homes.” Responses to a request for information were due June 28th.

Weekly Recap

New Townhomes in Riverwest

Four new townhomes are taking shape at the northeast corner of N. Humboldt Blvd. and E. Wright St. in Riverwest.

The property was acquired by Anthony Apostoli in 2007 for $95,000 and transferred into a revocable trust affiliated with the Kenosha resident in 2011 for a recorded value of $39,400, according to assessor’s office records.

Now the developer’s firm, Imperial Builders, General Contractor, Inc., is constructing the four attached townhomes on the site, 2500-2504 N. Humboldt Blvd. William Miller, also of Kenosha, is serving as the architect.

Read the full article

How Much Industrial Land Should Milwaukee Have?

There is no question that Milwaukee is no longer the “machine shop for the world.” But plenty of industrial companies still call Milwaukee home and approximately 45,000 industrial sector jobs are located in the city. How much space should the city allocate to them?

A draft report by the city called Milwaukee Industrial Land Use Analysis, attempts to answer that question and many more regarding the city’s industrial future. The city-commissioned, 119-page report is intended to build a shared vision for future land-use decisions regarding manufacturing, distribution and other industrial uses.

The report calls for a number of actions to reverse or stem that decline including protecting land along key transportation corridors like railroads for industrial users, updating the zoning code to better maintain affordable spaces for small manufacturing businesses by prohibiting office and commercial uses in certain areas, subsidizing the modernization of older industrial spaces and maintaining a comprehensive list of available industrial land in the city.

Read the full article

Milwaukee Public Museum Project Receives State Grant

The project to develop a new building for the Milwaukee Public Museum is receiving a state grant to help fund an early stage of development of the planned site.

On Thursday, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced it was awarding a $150,000 grant to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) to support site clearance and environmental site investigation.

“A vibrant downtown is key to a community’s overall economic health, and this development will bring more visitors to downtown, which will benefit other businesses and the entire community,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC, in a statement announcing the grant.

Read the full article

Plan To Renovate Every City-Owned Home Gains Traction

The Common Council killed the idea. Now they’re poised to give it life.

A repackaged version of Alderman Robert Bauman‘s proposal to rehabilitate all of the city-owned single-family and duplex houses using federal funds received a warm reception Tuesday morning.

The Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee reviewed Bauman’s proposal to renovate approximately 700 homes the city has acquired through property tax foreclosure.

But it ultimately held the matter pending the expected Friday release of a plan from Mayor Tom Barrett.

Read the full article

Can City Prevent Miami-Like Disaster?

At approximately 1:30 a.m. on June 24th a 12-story condominium building in a Miami suburb collapsed. Five days later, approximately 150 people are missing and the confirmed death toll continues to rise.

“I was following this story with horror,” said Alderman Robert Bauman to members of the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Tuesday morning. His district encompasses Downtown and the Near West Side, where almost all of the city’s tallest buildings are located.

The alderman introduced a communication file so the Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) can discuss what is being done in Milwaukee to prevent a similar reoccurrence.

“Obviously we do examinations in the beginning,” he said of construction. “I was just curious what we do 20 years in, 40 years in.”

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Decision Delayed on Bay View Cottages Historic Designation

A decision over whether or not a row of seven 1860s cottages should be given historic protection by the City of Milwaukee must wait at least three more weeks.

The Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee, at the request of area Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, agreed to hold a resolution Tuesday that would establish a new historic district on the east side of the 2500 block of S. Superior St. The alderwoman, who will be a key voice in whether the district is established, has not said whether she favors the designation or not.

The homes are believed to be the largest intact group of puddlers’ cottages. The Milwaukee Iron Company constructed and sold the small structures to its employees. Puddlers were ironworkers that formed molten metal into higher-quality iron. But the company and its rolling mill are now long gone, and the homes, which dot the east side of Bay View, are all that is left other than a historic marker.

Read the full article

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