Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Veterans Complex Will Greatly Expand

Vets Place Central at 33rd and Wells to grow bigger, provide more veterans housing.

By - May 29th, 2023 10:09 am
Vets Place Central expansion. Conceptual rendering by Galbraith Carnahan Architects.

Vets Place Central expansion. Conceptual rendering by Galbraith Carnahan Architects.

Construction is to start this fall on a $19.5 million expansion of The Center for Veterans Issues (CVI) housing complex on Milwaukee’s Near West Side.

The organization offers housing and wrap-around services for military veterans who struggle with homelessness.

Its complex, Vets Place Central, will gain a 53,000-square-foot rear addition that will expand the number of veterans it can house, provide substantially more private rooms and improve the quality of its service offerings.

“We are beyond excited about the opportunity to improve Vets Place Central for our veterans and community,” said CVI President Eduardo M. Garza, Jr. in a statement.

Urban Milwaukee broke the news of the organization’s prospective plans in January. CVI secured competitively low-income housing tax credits earlier this month to advance the project.

The organization is partnering with The Alexander Company on the development. CVI serves as the property manager for Alexander’s award-winning redevelopment of Old Main at the Soldiers Home Complex. That complex can house 101 veterans at risk of homelessness.

“We could not have accomplished this project without our friends at The Alexander Company. Their expertise and leadership were key in guiding us through this process and we look forward to many more opportunities with them in serving the veteran community,” said Garza, Jr.

A 53,000-square-foot addition will be built at the rear of the Vets Place building, 3300 W. Wells St. The facility current accommodates 74 veterans by using shared rooms originally designed for single occupancy. The expanded facility will have 81 single-occupancy rooms. Sixty-eight rooms will be for veterans to live in for a transitional period of no more than two years and 13 will be for long-term housing.

“We are proud to play a part in enhancing the lives of those who have served our country,” said Joe Alexander, president of The Alexander Company. “By combining our expertise in affordable housing solutions with Center for Veterans Issues’ dedication to supporting veterans, we are taking significant strides in addressing the challenges of homelessness within the veteran community.”

Galbraith Carnahan Architects is working on the expansion’s design. Kelly Construction & Design will serve as the general contractor. National Equity Fund and BMO are providing financing.

The units are designed as single-room occupancy (SRO) apartments. The SRO configuration provides a furnished bedroom, small lounge area and bathroom. A kitchen and other amenities are located in shared spaces in the building.

In addition to its case management, education and counseling services, CVI provides three meals per day.

“Without a safe environment with supportive housing and services, many veterans could not break the cycle of homelessness and move on to jobs and permanent housing,” says the CVI website.

CVI, according to its website, requires prospective tenants to be a military veteran, homeless, have a disability or be at least 55 years old, have a “stable income,” have at least 90 days of documented “clean time” and a willingness to stay drug and alcohol-free.

Board of Zoning Appeals approval is required before the development could progress and the proposal appears on the board’s June 1 agenda. Much of the site is currently a parking lot.

The 501(c)(3) organization maintains its headquarters a block to the south at the Brigadier General Robert A. Cocroft Veterans Resource Center, 3400 W. Wisconsin Ave. In 2022, the Common Council approved an honorary street name for the late Robert Cocroft, the organization’s longtime CEO. W. Wisconsin Ave. now bears signage honoring Cocroft from N. 27th St. to N. 35th St.

The Vets Place Central building was originally constructed in 1954 and acquired by CVI in 1994 according to city assessment records.

CVI also operates a series of permanent supportive housing complexes, including Veterans Manor at 720-730 N. 35th St., two blocks southwest of Vets Place. The 52-unit building opened in 2011. A similar facility was developed in Green Bay. The organization also operates scattered-site housing and a complex in Racine.

Photos and January Plan Drawings

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