The Encore Apartments Planned for Mitchell Street
A 5-story, 55-unit complex at 11th and Mitchell. Plus: A recap of week's real estate news.
A first-time developer is planning a sizable, and complicated, project on Historic Mitchell Street.
Zuwena Cotton, head of BBE Investments and Development, would demolish a two-story, 47,380-square-foot building at 1101-1113 W. Historic Mitchell St. and replace it with a five-story, 55-unit apartment building. She would also build townhouses on two nearby parking lots.
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Art Deco-style structure that would be demolished was constructed in 1937 for the Grand Department Store. But city assessment records say it was originally built in 1891, suggesting a substantial remodeling that wasn’t uncommon for the historic commercial street.
Cotton, in an application to the historic commission, calls the building “dilapidated” and “underused.” She acquired it in September 2020 for $350,000.
The proposed new building, known as The Encore, is being designed by Barry C Yang. “The new design will be a combination of Art Deco and modern chic,” says Cotton in her application. It would include a mix of studio, one, two and three-bedroom units.
“At the end of a long workday residents will be greeted with pedestrian friendly streetscapes with brick pavers and artistic motifs in the common areas. With such attention to detail, living in The Encore will truly be something to behold,” wrote Cotton.
Cotton owns one of the lots, 1718-1734 S. 12th St., having acquired it alongside the Mitchell Street property. The other lot, 1747 S. 12th St., is owned by the city. The space behind the townhouses would be used as parking for the apartment building.
The Encore building would include 18,130 square feet of commercial space on its first floor. Most of it, 10,000 square feet, would be reserved for a tenant in the existing building, Mitchell Beauty Supply Store. A “cornerstone” retail space, 2,700 square feet, would be targeted at a cafe. A 3,330-square-foot space would house a dance studio. The remaining 2,350-square-foot space would be used for a flexible space known as the Opportunity Center.
A former educator, Cotton is the owner of local Amazon service delivery partner Legacy Transit. The contracted companies own and operate the vans and other vehicles that make deliveries for the online retailer. Cotton has also engaged in real estate investing.
The commission could first review the proposal at its Dec. 5 meeting. Cotton would need separate approvals to demolish the existing building and construct the new building.
Should the commission reject the proposal, it could be overruled by the Common Council. Such a situation occurred in 2021 for the Forest Home Library, located just a couple blocks west of Cotton’s proposal.
Judge Rules Northridge Demolition Should Proceed, Despite Appeal
The situation surrounding Northridge Mall continues to get messier and messier, though Judge William Sosnay keeps prodding for a solution.
On Friday, Sosnay declined to issue an injunction following the latest appeal in the case. Sosnay said that the mall’s Chinese ownership group should commence the court-ordered demolition, and if not, the city should prepare to initiate the demolition itself. He gave the ownership group one week to submit a demolition plan and the city two weeks to submit its own enforcement plan.
But whether that translates into visible action is unclear. Sosnay’s prior prodding, including issuing a $2,000 per day fine, has yet to yield substantial change at the property.
U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group is appealing Sosnay’s October ruling that the City of Milwaukee was justified in condemning the long-shuttered mall in 2019. State law allows a raze order to be issued when repair costs exceed 50% of a building’s value, but Black Spruce has argued various technicalities on the issue while city officials contend the property is degrading and the repair cost is only growing. The city argues the buildings are assessed at $81,100 and repair would cost more than $7 million.
Public Museum Will Host Town Hall About Proposed New Home
The leaders of the Milwaukee Public Museum will present the organization’s plan for a new home, preview results from a survey on future exhibits and facility design and answer questions at a Nov. 16 event.
“Input from our visitors and community members has been a critical component in the future museum planning process as we envision a new space that sparks curiosity and facilitates a valuable museum experience,” said Censky in a statement. “The town hall will provide the public with an overview of our progress, an opportunity to pose questions and weigh in on the project’s next steps and a reason to get excited for what’s ahead.”
The nonprofit is pursuing a new $240 million natural history museum at the corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave. Demolition work began in June and the organization unveiled a conceptual exterior design in July for a five-story, 200,000-square-foot facility. It would replace the museum’s existing home at 800 W. Wells St.
New Leader for Downer Avenue Business District
It’s been a big year for Janet Henning.
In January Henning was announced as the new executive director of the Village of Shorewood‘s business improvement district. Now she’s adding a part-time role as the executive director of the Historic Downer Avenue Business Improvement District.
“We are thrilled to welcome Janet and her talents to our beloved Historic Downer Avenue family,” said board president Michael DeMichele in a statement. “Her experience and attention to detail is particularly exciting and we enter the post-pandemic era poised for continued growth and renewal on the street.” DeMichele owns the property that houses the Nehring’s Sendik’s grocery store.
“I look forward to propelling the Downer BID forward and continuing to build on the strengths previously created with the businesses and residents,” said Henning.
New House Hits Snag With Historic Commission
When it comes to new houses and the Historic Preservation Commission, one should always expect things to take some time.
A proposed two-story, 2,997-square-foot house is headed for a third public meeting next month after the commission again delayed approval pending further design revisions.
Juli Kaufmann and Mike Maschek are attempting to build a new house on the East Side near Lake Michigan. It would be the third new house in a row along the 2400 block of N. Terrace Ave., part of the North Point North Historic District.
After an initial meeting in October was beset by a commission staffer going on an unexpected, extended leave, the couple and their architect Patrick Jones of Ramsey Jones Architects revised the plans. The reclaimed-Cream-City-brick facade was maintained, but a series of minor changes were made to railings, windows, a front porch and other design elements.
County Estimates It Prevented Evictions for 12,000 Households
Milwaukee County has received $15 million in federal funding for an emergency rental assistance program that it says has prevented eviction for 12,000 unique households.
“Housing is key social determinant of health and the Emergency Rental Assistance funds have helped keep thousands of residents in their homes since June of 2020,” County Executive David Crowley said in a statement Monday.
The U.S. Department of Treasury has awarded the county another $15 million through the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program funded in part through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The county began providing direct rental assistance payments at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was begun with $10 million from the county’s allocation of funding under the federal CARES Act. Since then, the county has distributed more than $64 million in emergency rental assistance payments through the ERA2 program, which allows residents to receive up to 18 months of assistance.
Crowley Vetoes Historic Designation For Domes
County Executive David Crowley has moved to block an attempt at listing the Mitchell Park Domes on the National Register of Historic Places and also signaled that he thinks preservation should not be the only option for the future of the domes.
In September, the Milwaukee County Board approved legislation that asks the parks department to seek a listing for the Mitchell Park Domes on the National Historic Register. The county executive vetoed the resolution, stating that he does not want the county to move forward with historic designation until a long-term, sustainable plan has been developed for the domes and that demolition should be considered.
“The plan should consider and analyze options that may or may not include preservation of the domes in their current form, and if not, suggest other investments to support the specific community in which Mitchell Park sits, as well as the county’s mission and financial future, and alternatives to preserve the plant species and other flora currently housed at the Domes.”
Crowley’s predecessor, Chris Abele took a similar position when he said demolition was a “realistic option” in a 2016 interview with Dan Bice. “If the public says, ‘Hey, we don’t want to spend, of the finite box of funding we have, we don’t want to spend on this $75 million,’ I’m not going to tell them they’re wrong,” Abele said.
Keith Stanley Leaving Near West Side Partners
Near West Side Partners (NWSP), the nonprofit organization focused on the cluster of neighborhoods just west of downtown Milwaukee, is in the market for a new leader.
Founding executive director Keith Stanley is moving to Charlotte to serve as president and CEO of the nonprofit University City Partners, an organization seeking to replicate the NWSP model.
“Near West Side Partners is the transformative organization it is today because of Keith’s leadership, passion and vision,” said Rana Altenburg, NWSP board chair and associate vice president for public affairs at Marquette University, in a statement. “We wish Keith the best as he replicates the successes of the Near West Side in his new position, and we look forward to building on the positive momentum he helped establish in our community.”
Stanley will make the move at the end of the year.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.
Related Legislation: File 221062