From Classroom To Reality at 25th and North
Bria Grant creating home for nonprofit, space for restaurant and saving vacant building.
It’s taken several years, but Bria Grant‘s dream is becoming reality.
UniteWI coordinates the work of community health workers to provide at-risk populations with physical and behavioral health and social services. She launched the organization in 2016.
She secured an exclusive right to negotiate the city-owned, tax-foreclosed property in 2019. In 2021, the council approved a $1,500 sale agreement for the 5,144-square-foot building and a 4,720-square-foot vacant lot to the west. Building permits were issued earlier this year.
Area Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II credited Grant with saving the building, originally constructed in 1914, from the wrecking ball. He previously said the interior needed substantial work. “The cost to renovate was over $350,000. It was going to be demoed based on nobody presenting a project or the funds,” said the alderman in 2021. A Department of City Development report prepared as part of the sale agreement said Grant was going to invest up to $750,000 in the project.
New windows were recently installed, a notable visual milestone in an effort that has seen much of the structure rehabilitated. A dilapidated garage at the rear of the site, a magnet for illegal dumping, was demolished.
Michael Emem‘s namesake firm is serving as the general contractor on the project. Ellis Engineering & Construction Management Services is serving as the licensed designer.
The two apartments, in the 2021 plan, were to be reserved for a very specific population. “Pregnant moms at risk for homelessness,” she told the committee. It’s a population her organization, formerly known as UniteMKE, serves.
The city, according to Department of Neighborhood Services records, acquired the property via property tax foreclosure in 2007. Historic newspaper records indicate the building was previously occupied by Arthur’s Movers, Schwarz Motors and E.J. Kilbert Bakery.
The St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care is located just across the street from the building and to the east is a new Advance Auto Parts store.
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