New Credit Union For The Harbor District
A branch of Summit Credit Union on S. 1st St. Plus: recapping the week's real estate news.
A highly-visible vacant lot along a well-traveled link between Downtown and Bay View could soon house a new building.
Summit Credit Union is moving to develop a branch office on the property, 1288 S. 1st St. It’s part of the larger Freshwater Plaza development and would sit between the Freshwater Plaza Apartments building to the south and a stand-alone Sherwin Williams paint store to the north. Freshwater Plaza is located at the corner of S. 1st St. and E. Greenfield Ave. and serves as a gateway to the Harbor District.
Summit purchased its 0.54-acre development site in July 2019 for $658,800 after securing zoning approval for the 3,393-square-foot building’s design. But for nearly two years there was no activity. Contractors for the financial institution began applying for permits in April.
“We’ve oriented the building to try to maximize building frontage along S. 1st St,” said project designer Austin Conrad of architecture firm Strang Inc. in February 2019 to the City Plan Commission. “We’ve placed items that are perhaps less urban in nature at the rear.” Those items include a three-stall drive-through and private access drive, trash enclosure and utility enclosure. One “less urban” feature will still front S. 1st St.: A 21-stall parking lot would connect with S. 1st St. and the large surface parking lot in the middle of the complex.
A commercial alteration permit request filed in June indicates that J.H. Findorff & Son is serving as the general contractor. Strang is still leading the building’s design. The estimated job cost associated with that permit is an unusually precise $1,898,113. The cost excludes mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
A representative of Summit declined to share any details on the project and said the credit union was “still finalizing the details of the construction process.”
Summit isn’t the only Madison-area institution expanding its Milwaukee presence. UW Credit Union recently completed a new branch at S. Chase Ave. and W. Oklahoma Ave. in the southwest corner of Bay View.
Freshwater Plaza itself could also keep growing. The city is selling the 2.03-acre site to the east of the apartment building. It was listed for $1.9 million with an Aug. 11 response deadline. Wangard Partners once proposed a five-story building for the site, at 200 E. Greenfield Ave. Komatsu Mining recently opened its South Harbor Campus development to the east.
Wangard, the master developer behind Freshwater Plaza, no longer has an ownership interest in the complex. In February, it sold the Sherwin Williams property, 1212-1278 S. 1st St., for $2.83 million to an affiliate of New York-based Keystone National Properties. In July, the firm sold the apartment building, which includes a mostly-full first floor of commercial space and 76 fully-leased apartments, for $17.4 million to Chicago-based Bender Companies.
UWM’s New Chemistry Building Rises
The future home of the UW-Milwaukee Chemistry Department is rising up from the university campus.
The four-story, 163,400-square-foot building is being constructed at approximately 2000 E. Kenwood Blvd. It is intended to serve as a gateway to all of the university’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) departments and buildings.
“This new facility will represent much of what the Wisconsin Idea is all about,” said then-UW System President Tommy Thompson at the Jan. 26 groundbreaking. “To meet the state’s biggest and thorniest challenges and, most importantly, to equip our students with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed.”
UWM Demolishing Former Columbia Hospital
Demolition work is now proceeding on the former Columbia Hospital on the UW-Milwaukee campus while the Historic Preservation Commission appears poised not to appeal a ruling that limited its authority over state-owned buildings.
The university is seeking to demolish the building, first built in 1919, to create green space on its landlocked campus. It has pursued demolition through a public process since 2019, but a petition for historic designation was not submitted until February 2022 after a construction fence went up.
The commission designated the building as historic on April 4, and the council and mayor affirmed the decision later that month. The city filed a lawsuit on April 29 that sought to block the university system from moving forward with demolition without receiving the proper city approvals.
Council Gives First Approval to New Youth Prison Site
The Milwaukee Common Council took the first step toward approving a Milwaukee-based replacement for the troubled Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prison facilities that are located more than 200 miles from the city.
Governor Tony Evers announced an agreement Tuesday to build a new “Type 1” justice facility on a dead-end street on Milwaukee’s Far Northwest Side. The facility is used to house youth convicted of “Serious Juvenile Offender” offenses.
The council held a special meeting Friday morning to approve the site, as required by state law, but not the zoning change necessary to construct the complex.
There was no public comments on the matter, nor did the council members offer much of their own.
Northridge Mall Suffers Fourth Fire In A Month
The city’s fight to demolish the long-shuttered Northridge Mall continues to play out in court, but at least one arsonist continues to light the structure on fire.
The property, owned by China-based U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group, suffered its fourth fire in as many weeks Wednesday night. “Every one of these is an enormous drag on city resources,” said Fire Chief Aaron Lipski, in full protective gear, at a press conference outside the mall Wednesday night. “There is nobody maintaining this property. There is nobody responsible for this property. There might be an owner on a piece of paper. That’s not the same, not when my firefighter’s lives are at risk.”
The Milwaukee Fire Department previously responded to fires on July 16, 19 and 24. Two of the fires have been two-alarm blazes, requiring additional firefighters to respond. Lipski said the nature of the 900,000-square-foot complex, with different structures and building materials, makes any fire particularly dangerous to firefighters. He said veteran firefighters described the July 19 blaze as one of the hottest they had ever experienced.
“If I sound irritated tonight, then you’re hearing me,” said Lipski. “There are zero smoke detection systems, zero functioning fire suppression systems in this building. This is wildly unacceptable.”
Feds Don’t Select Milwaukee For Streetcar Grant
Another swing and a miss. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) did not award Milwaukee a grant to extend The Hop streetcar system to W. Wisconsin Ave. and the convention center.
The federal government announced $2.2 billion in infrastructure grants Thursday and Milwaukee wasn’t on the list. The city had requested $25 million to complete a $33 million extension of The Hop from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station north into Westown.
It’s the fourth time the city has submitted a bid through what’s now known as the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program for the project.
The federal government is backing 166 projects, including four in Wisconsin.
Construction To Start On Water and Jackson Apartments
A new apartment building, Elevation 1659, is poised to soon join the row of apartment buildings on Water Street running north from Downtown towards the Lower East Side.
The five-story, 76-unit building would be built into the sloped site at the intersection of N. Water St. and N. Jackson St. Ogden Multifamily Partners secured zoning approval for the market-rate project in 2019, but had yet to move forward with what was described as a “shovel ready” project in 2020.
Elevation 1659 will have a unique design. A series of “fingers” will project west from the building, housing apartments that project out from the building’s core. The design will take advantage of the triangular-shaped site and allow natural light into the apartments from three sides. “It’s reasonable to think that’s worth 10 to 15 cents per square foot,” Pietsch told the City Plan Commission in June 2019 about the monthly rent premium the feature would command.
23 Homes Receiving Free Repairs in Lindsay Heights
It’s going to be a busy Saturday in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.
More than 500 volunteers are expected to make free repairs and upgrades to 23 homes as part of Revitalize Milwaukee‘s Block Building MKE 2022 program.
“Each year, Block Build improves the quality of life and stabilizes a Milwaukee neighborhood. The critical repairs completed are essential to helping homeowners stay in their homes,” said Lynnea Katz-Petted, CEO of the nonprofit organization hosting the event.
Revitalize Milwaukee is partnering with the Walnut Way Conversation Corp. on the 2022 program. Other neighborhood stakeholders that are partnering on the effort include Feeding America, the Social Development Commission, Safe & Sound, the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Fire Department.
Nonprofit Launches Housing Acquisition Fund To Block Outside Investors
Acts Housing, the Milwaukee-based nonprofit focused on home-buyer counseling, lender and rehabilitation, is launching an acquisition program aimed at ensuring low-to-moderate income (LMI) Milwaukee residents — instead of out-of-state investors — are able to buy affordable housing.
“Annually, there are hundreds of families with LMIs that have graduated from the Acts Housing homebuyer education program. They’re financially prepared and approved for homeownership, but they’re missing out on the most affordable homes,” said Acts Housing president and CEO Michael Gosman in a press release announcing the effort. “That because predatory, out-of-state investors have purchased massive quantities of single-family homes to use as long-term and often poorly maintained rentals.”
The nonprofit is launching the Acts Homeownership Acquisition Fund with a $1 million gift from the Zilber Family Foundation and $2 million in other contributions. Acts has an $11 million goal for the fund, which would include $1 million in operational expenses and $10 million for a revolving loan fund.
The fund aims to purchase at least 100 single-family or duplex homes per year that would otherwise likely be sold via off-market deals, portfolio transactions involving investors or by the city out of property tax foreclosure.
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