Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Bronzeville Embracing Artist Housing

City properties rehabbed at intersection of Meinecke and Vel R. Phillips avenues.

By - Feb 15th, 2022 04:16 pm
322-340 W. Meinecke Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

322-340 W. Meinecke Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A cluster of city-owned, dilapidated homes in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood is being redeveloped into artist housing.

The Common Council created the Art and Resource Community Hub (ARCH) program in late 2016 to induce artists and developers with $25,000 forgivable loans to work collaboratively to redevelop city-owned homes.

The program found its first taker in artist Vedale Hill and real estate firm Strong Blocks. The duplex at 2406-2408 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. was redeveloped starting in 2017 as a home for Hill’s family and workspace for the visual artist.

Now Hill, along with Sara Daleiden and Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, are poised to buy the two adjacent buildings, 322-340 W. Meinecke Ave., as housing for more artists.

“Together we created HomeWorks. We really looked at housing to sustain and make more efficient the progress we are making in the Bronzeville area with art programming bringing national attention to the area,” said Hill to members of the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Feb. 1.

Earlier this year the New York Times named the neighborhood one of 52 to visit. America’s Black Holocaust Museum will reopen on Feb. 25 in a new facility a block to the south. The Bronzeville Center for the Arts is developing a gallery and office space just to the west of the museum and is planning a 50,000-square-foot, “world-class” arts and cultural center a block to the east.

“We’ve looked at this as a cluster,” said Hill.

HomeWorks plans to purchase the two buildings for $1. It would renovate the duplex at 352 W. Meinecke Ave. and demolish the four-family house on the corner. Hill said the group has received a $100,000 commitment from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and additional financing support from the Wisconsin Preservation Fund.

“They’ve learned that the four-family probably can’t be saved based on a reasonable budget, especially for the uses they want to do on site,” said Department of City Development real estate services manager Amy Turim.

A DCD report identifies the project cost at $225,000 plus the cost of demolition. It would result in a 1,800-square-foot structure with an art studio on the first floor and three bedrooms on the second floor. Turim said the project has spent a substantial amount of time in development.

“We’ve identified every aspect of what we have to go through as we learned from developing my property,” said Hill.

A new building could eventually be developed on the site of the demolished structure.

“I am so happy we have gotten to this point,” said area Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs. She said the city sought artists for the houses for years, but it took the creation of the ARCH program to advance the effort.

HomeWorks has a vision for who the new tenant would be.

“We’re looking at bringing in a young entrepreneur and having a business in this dwelling,” said Hill, noting that combining housing and artist workspace is cost effective.

The city has owned the Meinecke property since acquiring it through property tax foreclosure in June 2015.

The full council unanimously approved the sale and $25,000 forgivable loan on Feb. 8.


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