Saz’s Plans Outdoor Event Venue
Walker's Point "eyesore" would become large, two-story venue. Plus: Our recap of week's real estate news.
Not every vacant lot in the booming Walker’s Point neighborhood is due to house an apartment building.
One such lot, 822 S. 2nd St., could soon house an outdoor event venue.
The 14,280-square-foot lot would gain a two-story, open-air structure with a bar on the first level and a deck on the second. Approximately half of the lot would contain a fenced-in patio. The northern half of the lot would become a 17-stall parking structure.
The patio would be entirely enclosed with fencing. The second-story deck would connect with an existing mezzanine space inside the building, a 6,000-square-foot brick structure.
The catering company’s headquarters is located kitty-corner from the venue. The venue, headquarters and vacant lot, as well as a handful of other nearby properties, were owned by dairy equipment company Federal Manufacturing Co. But the company moved to Pewaukee in 2014.
Developer Dan Katt helped redevelop many of the properties, including the Saz’s facility in 2015 and the event venue in 2016. He planned a 40-unit apartment building for the vacant lot, but those plans never progressed. An entity affiliated with Saz’s purchased the lot in 2021 for $400,000 from Federal. A concrete floor remains from a building demolished more than 40 years ago.
“The property being developed is comprised of 2 empty surface lots that have been an eyesore in the community for a number of years,” the zoning application says. “Saz’s is putting significant investment into its beautification.” The northern part of the property has recently held a makeshift patio for the adjacent Walker’s Pint bar.
Architecture firm HGA designed the South Second venue, and is leading the design of the outdoor space. The current design “honors the historic industrial character of the building while opening the space to the bustling nightlife of the neighborhood,” says Saz’s marketing website.
South Second currently can hold a maximum of 275 guests for cocktail receptions (150 for seated ceremonies). Saz’s initially leased the venue before purchasing it in 2021 for $800,000.
Saz’s, which provides catering to other venues all over the region, has seen success with its Walker’s Point operation. It added a second venue in 2021 on the first floor and basement of The Block, 425-431 W. National Ave.
The Board of Zoning Appeals will review the expansion at an upcoming meeting.
Renderings and Site Plan
120 New Homes for King Park Neighborhood
A Milwaukee County project to develop 120 new, affordable homes in the King Park neighborhood in the city of Milwaukee is moving forward.
In February, Gov. Tony Evers announced that Milwaukee County would receive $10.5 million from the state’s ARPA allocation. The county is planning to use $6.5 million to develop 120 new single-family homes on currently vacant lots in the neighborhood and $1.5 million for the rehabilitation of the King Park Community Center.
The Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) partnered with the Community Development Alliance (CDA) to issue a request for proposals (RFP) from developers that can build the homes. On Friday, CDA announced the selection of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity and the Emem Group as the winning developers.
The ARPA funds will be used to fill the cost gap between building a new house versus the eventual purchase price. “Without ARPA funds, you wouldn’t be able to make these affordable,” said James Mathy, Housing Division director, in an interview. The new, three-bedroom homes will cost approximately $190,000 to build and be sold for $110,000 or less. The Habitat homes (80) will be immediately sold, while the Emem houses (40) will be leased for a period of 15 years at affordable rates through the low-income housing tax credit program before being sold.
City’s Fiserv Subsidy Includes $7 Million Cash, New Plaza
The city’s portion of a proposed subsidy agreement to bring financial technology firm Fiserv’s headquarters to downtown Milwaukee includes a $7 million cash grant. It also includes $4.6 million for nearby projects, including the development of a plaza honoring a Wisconsin civil rights leader, traffic calming improvements to W. Michigan St. and improvements to Zeidler Union Square.
Fiserv would lease 144,000 square feet of space in the eight-story HUB640 building at the corner of W. Wisconsin Ave. and N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. and invest at least $37 million into the project. In exchange for bringing a minimum of 780 employees to the space, the city would provide the company a $7 million cash grant. The state, via the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, would also contribute a currently undisclosed subsidy.
The move has been several years in the making. In 2017 the Fortune 500 company confirmed it was considering multiple sites in Milwaukee, but never moved. In 2019 it acquired First Data Corporation for $22 billion and set about restructuring or closing several dozen of its offices spread across the country. It now reports approximately 44,000 employees, with major offices in Brookfield, suburban New Jersey, Georgia, Nebraska and Florida and an executive office in New York City. Wisconsin, in 2017, awarded Fiserv up to $10 million in tax credits to maintain its headquarters in the state.
The money for the city’s grant and nearby public improvements would come from increased property tax revenue from the building. Long home to a Boston Store department store and parent company Bon-Ton’s corporate headquarters, the business went bankrupt in 2018. New owner North Wells Capital recently landed a Kohl’s department store for the first floor, a handful of smaller office tenants and now Brookfield-based Fiserv.
Rite-Hite Affiliate Buys Global Water Center
SixSibs Capital Corporation, an affiliate of Rite-Hite Holding Corporation, purchased the seven-story, 86,156-square-foot building at 247 W. Freshwater Way. It will continue to lease the building to other office tenants while Rite-Hite becomes the dominant business in the area.
The office building is a redeveloped factory from 1904. Originally built for the Molitor Paper Box Company and later occupied by the Murphy Specialty Company and Allied Canvas Products Corporation, the structure was redeveloped in 2013 into an office building. The redeveloped building includes a 44-seat auditorium, water testing and flow laboratory and executive conference room.
Located in Walker’s Point, the building was intended as the eastern gateway to a water-focused business park. And while the Global Water Center has attracted a number of small water tenants and Zurn Elkay Water Solutions built a headquarters in the business park, the area will soon be known for a warehouse equipment company.
Wisconsin Housing Shortage Compounding Worker Shortage
Registered nurse and Oshkosh native Mackenzie Summerville and her fiance spent more than a year looking for their first home.
In August, the couple finally had an accepted offer — after placing nine offers, many of which were above asking price, on different homes. They moved into their new home in Weyauwega, about a 35-minute commute from her job, last month.
“It was super frustrating,” Summerville said. “You get shut down so many times that you just legitimately think you’re never gonna find a house.”
Many in Wisconsin have experienced similar frustrations in recent years.
Downtown Dog Park Will Include Riverfront Brewery
The quest to build a sizable downtown dog park took a major step forward Wednesday morning.
The park, planned for a vacant riverfront site along N. Plankinton Ave., now has a naming rights partner and a proposed next-door neighbor.
Fromm Family Pet Food is the naming rights partner for the project. In addition, the Fromm-Nieman family-owned Foxtown Brewing will build a 28,000-square-foot brewery on the southern edge of the site. The joint development is to be known as Foxtown Landing.
“Milwaukee is rich in history, as is the Fromm brand and our family. When we learned about the dog park project, we began exploring the larger opportunity to develop a true ‘dog district’ where people and their pets can gather along the river at the nexus of where the Historic Third Ward and Downtown meet,” said Fromm president Tom Nieman in a statement. “With dog ownership rapidly increasing in recent years in the greater downtown area, we see this as a natural fit for us and a game changer for the City of Milwaukee.”
Council Unanimously Approves Deer District Concert Venues
A new concert complex planned for a vacant site across from Fiserv Forum cleared a major hurdle Tuesday.
The Common Council unanimously approved a zoning change to enable a proposal from Frank Productions, Live Nation and the Milwaukee Bucks to develop a two-hall live music venue on a portion of the former Bradley Center site. After two multi-hour public hearings that saw substantial opposition, the council did not even debate the matter before voting.
The building would be located at the southwest corner of the intersection of W. Highland Ave. and N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. and open up towards the Deer District plaza. The complex would include 800 and 4,000-person venues targeted at primarily standing crowds. The development team calls it a $50 million project.
The opposition to the proposal comes almost entirely from a coalition, Save MKE’s Music Scene, whose members have connections to competing venues. Its members have argued that the city is allowing an anti-competitive business, similar to Walmart, into the market. Live Nation, which co-owns FPC Live with Frank Productions, is the country’s leading concert promoter and counts Ticketmaster among its subsidiaries. Project supporters have argued the new complex would serve an unmet segment of the market and grow the size of Milwaukee’s music scene.
Hunger Task Force Blasts State For Leaving Coggs Building
The state will no longer offer services from the Marcia P. Coggs Human Service Center, at 1220 W. Vliet St., beginning this week, triggering a civil rights complaint filed by Hunger Task Force, the local non-profit and foodbank.
The building has long been the clearinghouse for Milwaukee Enrollment Services, referred to as MilES, which helped Milwaukee residents access state benefit programs like Badger Care and Foodshare, among many others. The state has been on a month-to-month lease for years in the building owned by Milwaukee County. Now it’s moving the office out of the central city to the city’s far Northwest side. On Nov. 1, the office will move into a former warehouse space at 6055 N. 64th St.
Hunger Task Force, which advocates for people living in poverty that rely on these services, says this is the latest in a long list of moves made by the state Department of Health Services (DHS) in Milwaukee that greatly disadvantage the city’s poor and people of color.
The group released a statement Monday explaining that the organization had filed a federal Civil Rights Complaint against the state Department of Health Services. “The state has and continues to actively discriminate against Milwaukee County residents that are people of color, precariously housed, limited English proficient and elderly, blind and disabled,” the nonprofit charged. “These Milwaukee County residents are equal citizens, and disparate treatment and limiting access to federal entitlements will not be tolerated by the people of Milwaukee county.”
Northridge Owner Appeals, Blocks Demolition Order
The City of Milwaukee’s quest to demolish the long-closed Northridge Mall has hit a new roadblock.
The Chinese ownership group, U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group, is appealing an Oct. 3 circuit court ruling that affirmed the city’s 2019 raze order and levied a $109,000 fine, due Oct. 31, for failing to secure the property.
“Black Spruce is ordered that they immediately commence the process of razing the properties,” said Judge William Sosnay in making his ruling. He declared the buildings a “public nuisance” and struck down a restraining order that blocked the orders from being enforced. He also declared Black Spruce to be in contempt.
County Seeks Suburban Affordable Housing Projects
Milwaukee County’s Housing Division, in partnership with the Community Development Alliance (CDA), is seeking proposals from affordable housing projects in Milwaukee County suburbs that need gap financing.
Earlier this year, county officials approved a plan to use $15 million in federal funds from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation to support affordable housing projects in suburban communities. The project is being driven in part by the lack of affordable housing options in the suburbs, which limits the mobility of county residents.
“What we’re looking for is multifamily affordable housing projects, geographically dispersed in as many suburbs as possible,” Housing Administrator James Mathy told Urban Milwaukee.
What the county is offering, Mathy explained, is gap financing. The funds can be used to cover construction costs, to be used in conjunction with Low Income Housing Tax Credits, or to reduce the rent on units that would otherwise be leased at the market rate. All projects will need to maintain the affordability for a period of at least 20 years.
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