Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

From Classroom To Reality at 25th and North

Bria Grant creating home for nonprofit, space for restaurant and saving vacant building.

By - Dec 30th, 2022 03:26 pm
2501-2503 W. North Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

2501-2503 W. North Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s taken several years, but Bria Grant‘s dream is becoming reality.

Grant, in partnership with the Emem Group, is redeveloping the vacant, two-story building at 2501-2503 W. North Ave. into a home for her nonprofit, UniteWI, a restaurant and two apartments.

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.

Grant graduated from the Associates in Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) program in 2017, a collaborative effort led by LISC Milwaukee to train people of color for careers in real estate. “This actually started off as my project,” she told Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee in 2021 of her ACRE training and capstone project.

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.

Grant, in 2021, said she is receiving financial support from the Greater Milwaukee FoundationZilber Family Foundation and IFF.

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.

Details on the restaurant have yet to be disclosed. The 2019 plans called for a pizza-centric restaurant, but that vision fell through. “We will have a garden that supplies the restaurant as well as a patio and green space to beautify the neighborhood,” said Grant in 2021. Coffee Makes You Black owner and operator Bradley Thurman was said to be advised Grant on the restaurant portion.

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.


2019 Photos

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.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us