Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Church Buys Haymarket Building

Christ Church Milwaukee will occupy former industrial building just north of Downtown.

By - Dec 13th, 2021 08:05 pm
1422 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. Photo taken June 22nd, 2021 by Jeramey Jannene.

1422 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. Photo taken June 22nd, 2021 by Jeramey Jannene.

Christ Church Milwaukee is moving full speed ahead on a plan to move into a former industrial building in Milwaukee’s Haymarket neighborhood.

The church purchased the property, 1422 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave., on Friday for $1.35 million.

Led by pastor Jon Talley, the church intends to use the two-story, 22,500-square-foot building for a worship space. It would also lease out the space to neighboring organizations, including schools.

“We are a church that’s about seven years old and we have been somewhat nomadic in our first few years,” said Tally in June to the City Plan Commission. “Our hope is to really serve the city of Milwaukee well. It’s part of our mission statement.”

Built in 1916, the building was most recently home to RedLine, an art gallery and studio space. The gallery opened in the building in 2009 and closed in 2019. Created by Steve Vande Zande and Lori Bauman, the nonprofit served as an incubator for Milwaukee’s arts community.

The property was listed for sale through Paul Monigal of Corley Real Estate.

Christ Church’s new property was purchased in an Internal Revenue Service auction by Milwaukee bar and restaurant owner R.C. Schmidt in 1987 for $87,000 and sold to a limited liability company connected to Lori Bauman in 2008 for $480,000. RedLine did a substantial redevelopment of the property prior to opening.

The church’s purchase includes a not-insignificant agreement between it and the City of Milwaukee. For use as a worship space, the building needed a zoning change. It would become property tax exempt with the church’s ownership and proposed use.

Pushback from council members Robert Bauman and Milele A. Coggs, the latter who represents the area just north of Downtown, resulted in a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement.

The church filed a signed agreement to make an annual payment for what would be the city share of its property tax bill. With an assessment of $1.05 million, that would be $10,731 under the city’s 2022 tax rate.

The church is an affiliate of the Presbyterian Church in America. Most recently it leased space at 1451 Renaissance Place in the Lower East Side neighborhood.

“I appreciate the church’s willingness to engage with the city about the PILOT program,” said Coggs. She said she hoped more institutions would follow their example.

The city has used PILOTs to address the fact that more than 9,000 properties are property tax exempt. A 2019 treasurer’s office report says $4.6 billion of property is exempt, more than 17% of the city’s total assessed value. The percentage of property that is exempt far outpaces the suburbs, further exacerbating the city’s financial woes given its state-imposed reliance on property tax revenue.

Pastors of a number of north side churches have rallied at City Hall in recent months to demand an end to what they claim is a “tax and take” scheme by the City Assessor’s office. An analysis of their claims shows that many of the issues stem from a failure to pay for water service and other fees assessed to all properties regardless of tax status and a failure to file a state-mandated biannual form to maintain tax exempt status.

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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Church Buys Haymarket Building”

  1. Edward Susterich says:

    Why should any business property be tax exempt?

    Religion is a business,,,and profitable.

    Tax the churches.

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