Neu-Life Plans Development at 12th and Cherry
A 6-story, mixed-use building with 36 apartments, a gym, offices and culinary training.
A nonprofit focused on providing educational and recreational programming for youth is planning a six-story, mixed-use building that would include 36 apartments, a gym, office space, a culinary training space and a rooftop event area.
Neu-Life Community Development, a 23-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit, would use the facility to expand its programming. It could also end up housing the youth the organization works with as they age out of its traditional programming.
“The initial goal was to replace the gang mentality,” said founder and CEO Joann Harris-Comodore to the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee Tuesday. “The next step is to continue that process when they become 18.” She said the goal is to help those young adults, ages 18 to 24, grow to become independent, functional members of the community.
The organization would develop the complex on a largely vacant site at the intersection of N. 12th St. and W. Cherry St. Much of the site is currently used for the organization’s gardens.
“Neu-Life is very excited about this project,” said executive director Jody Rhodes. “We are very excited to expand our scope and scale.”
The approximately 25,000-square-foot site comprises six parcels, with Neu-Life owning five and the City of Milwaukee holding the remaining property.
Department of City Development (DCD) program manager Yves LaPierre said the city will grant Neu-Life a two-year exclusive period to pursue financing for its development and purchase the 7,500-square-foot city site, 1515 N. 12th St.
Part of the project’s financing includes $3.5 million in federal New Market Tax Credits, which it has already secured. The financing tool, which awards income tax credits, is intended to support development in disadvantaged areas.
Any future development on the site would likely be tax-exempt, but Neu-Life is accepting an annual $5,000 payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement as part of the purchase agreement. The city would sell its property for $5,600.
Area Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II strongly supports the proposal, which is just across Interstate 43 from Downtown.
“Neu-Life has been an integral part of the 15th District based on youth development and youth growth and just helping out in the community for years,” said Stamper. “I love Neu-Life.”
The committee unanimously endorsed the exclusive negotiation period. The full council will vote on the proposal on April 18.
The organization’s offices are currently located at 2014 W. North Ave. in space leased from Bethel Baptist Church.
A rendering of the new complex, submitted to the city, was designed by Engberg Anderson Architects. Zilber Family Foundation, Forward Community Investments and the Foley & Lardner law firm have provided pre-development support.
The city acquired its parcel via property tax foreclosure in 2022. Online permit records indicate a building on the site was demolished in 2015. It was last used as a church.
Neu-Life has acquired its five properties in the past two years, paying $69,000 for a lot with a vacant commercial structure from 1890 on it and $5,600 combined for the remaining four vacant lots.