Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Republicans Approve Gov. Evers’ Allocation of $32.6 Million More To Build Milwaukee Youth Prison

Plus: A recap of the week's real estate news.

By - Jun 4th, 2023 05:46 pm
Proposed youth corrections facility at 7930 W. Clinton Ave. Rendering by BWBR Architects.

Proposed youth corrections facility at 7930 W. Clinton Ave. Rendering by BWBR Architects.

There is one Milwaukee project that made it through the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance unscathed.

A proposed Milwaukee replacement for the troubled Lincoln Hills youth prison in central Wisconsin was left untouched, even as its cost grew 71%. It’s now a $78.4 million project.

Last week, the powerful joint finance committee, which reviews the governor’s biennial budget proposal, stripped Gov. Tony Evers‘ capital budget down from $3.8 billion to $2.4 billion. That included striking $9.3 million for a professional soccer stadium in Milwaukee and dropping more than $800 million of proposed University of Wisconsin system projects, including UW-Madison’s top priority, a new engineering school with substantial private support.

City officials approved constructing the new, 32-bed youth prison for boys on Milwaukee’s Far Northwest Side earlier this year. It’s a partial replacement for the Wausau-area Lincoln Hills facility, which gained national notoriety in 2015 for allegations of abuse of youth by staff, staff shortages and other problems. The state has paid out more than $25 million in settlements related to the facility. A court monitor now oversees the implementation of a consent decree and reports the state has made “significant progress” improving the conditions.

The new facility, according to Evers’ February funding proposal, is to open in May 2026.

The Wisconsin State Legislature, after years of delay, approved $41.8 million for the project in February 2022, a period in which its location and final design was still unknown. That was in addition to $4 million previously approved for design and site acquisition. In February, Evers proposed borrowing an additional $32.6 million for the project, formally a Type 1 Juvenile Corrections Facility.

The City of Milwaukee granted zoning approval for the new facility in January after several hours-long hearings. The move cleared a pathway for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) to build a 32-bed facility just northwest of N. 76th St. and W. Good Hope Rd. On Feb. 3, the State Building Commission authorized spending $1.1 million to acquire the 6.6-acre site and $500,000 to begin site preparation work. A total of $2.4 million was previously authorized for design work.

The DOC would construct an approximately 72,000-square-foot building at 7930 W. Clinton Ave, a large site at the end of a dead-end road. At the rear, a 16-foot-tall wall would enclose an outdoor recreation area. A ring road would wrap the building, with a six-foot-tall, steel fence enclosing the portion of the road that borders the secured area. It would only house boys.

“Despite the stigma of a correctional facility, we are committed to being good neighbors and have the experience to maintain our facility on Clinton Avenue,” said state DOC Secretary Kevin Carr during a Jan. 10 Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee hearing. He said the Lincoln Hills facility, now well below its capacity, is still far too large and the 32-bed setup was the ideal configuration. Additionally, Carr said the facility would keep youth closer to home, enable the hiring of a more diverse workforce and improve rehabilitation outcomes by providing better programming and therapy for both inmates and their families.

State Senator Lena Taylor, who represents the area, has supported the proposal. State Assembly members LaKeshia Myers and Dora Drake, who will trade off representing the site as a result of the redistricting process, have supported bringing the facility to Milwaukee. At the local level, a handful of council members objected to the proposal, in part because the district it was being built didn’t have a representative at the time of its approval.

Southern Wisconsin juvenile male offenders were previously housed at the Ethan Allen School for Boys in the Town of Delafield, but Governor Scott Walker closed that facility and one for girls in Racine County as part of a cost-cutting move in 2011. Given the condition of Ethan Allen, a former sanitarium, it would reportedly cost several million dollars to reopen the facility.

For additional details on the facility, see our January 2023 coverage.

Another city of Milwaukee project that made it through unscathed? A $10.75 million allocation for a $28 million upgrade to Marquette University‘s School of Dentistry. The state does not have a public dentistry school. UW-Milwaukee is to receive $5 million for planning related to renovations related to health services programs and to building out its Northwest Quadrant, a former hospital.

At least two projects at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, located in Wauwatosa, were included in the legislative funding proposal. A long-sought replacement for the Cream Puff Pavilion at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis was also recommended for funding. The $12.5 million renovation is expected to be funded with $6 million in private donations.

The Legislature must still approve the full budget.

Renderings and Site


Weekly Recap

Streetcar Rolling Through Rising Couture

Construction work on The Couture, a 44-story apartment tower, is now progressing at a steady clip.

The $190 million building, which appears to have reached its 15th floor, is now visible from many streets Downtown and the Historic Third Ward. And work on the streetcar extension through its base is now moving.

The completed building will include 322 high-end apartments starting from the fifth floor. The first three floors of the building will include a public amenity concourse with 42,000 square feet of commercial space suitable for multiple restaurants. A resident amenity level, which includes an outdoor pool, will be located on the fourth floor. The oversized nature of those first floors is now visible, with the residential floors above exhibiting a more conventional height.

Location, both to the lakefront just to the east and to the cluster of downtown office buildings immediately to The Couture’s west, will be a key selling point in the building’s leasing strategy.

Read the full article

Republicans Block State Funding For Iron District Stadium

Funding for a proposed soccer and lacrosse stadium in downtown Milwaukee was one of several projects Republican lawmakers stripped from the state budget Thursday.

The 8,000-seat soccer stadium is to be home to a new professional men’s soccer team owned by Jim Kacmarcik. Marquette University‘s men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse teams would also play in the building. The new soccer team would play in the USL Championship League, a fully-professional league one level below Major League Soccer.

Governor Tony Evers proposed a $9.3 million allocation in February to support the project, part of the larger $160 million Iron District development, in his 2023-2025 capital budget. The State Building Commission deadlocked on the proposal in March, sending it to the Wisconsin State Legislature without a recommendation. On Thursday, the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance adopted its $2.4 billion omnibus plan, far smaller than Evers’ $3.8 billion proposal.

A naming contest for the professional soccer team is currently underway. It is slated to begin play, joining a league with several Midwest teams, in 2025. The field in the stadium would use artificial turf, allowing for heavier utilization.

Read the full article

Rep Releases Updated Theater Designs, Seeks Donations To Start Construction

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater is ramping up its fundraising efforts to overhaul its downtown theater complex.

A new $7.5 million matching campaign, led by trustee Anthony J. Petullo and an anonymous donor, aims to secure the necessary funding to start construction on the $75 million Associated Bank Theater Center. On Wednesday, the nonprofit theater organization also released new renderings and a video walk-through of the proposed complex.

The project, unveiled in fall 2022, calls for redeveloping the 1980s theater center with substantially new theaters, the addition of an education and community center and entirely new common spaces throughout.

The matching campaign follows a $1.55 million gift from the Lubar family for naming rights to the donor lounge and a successful Curtain Call Ball that raised an additional $1 million for the project.

Read the full article

Milwaukee Reloads Lawsuit Howitzer

Milwaukee is reloading its metaphorical howitzer and anticipates firing it at the federal courthouse.

On Tuesday, the Common Council unanimously authorized spending an additional $65,000 on outside attorneys to fight a federal lawsuit that alleges the city has used federal funding to create near-lawless “containment zones” that concentrate poverty and yield “second-class citizens.”

In allocating an initial $125,000 in August, area Alderman Robert Bauman called the city’s legal strategy the equivalent of “literally getting out a howitzer to kill a fly.” The city hired Foley & Lardner and one of the firm’s newest partners, former U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Krueger, to defend itself.

The city once expected it would be defending itself against Krueger’s former employer. the U.S. Department of Justice. The council, with virtually no comment on the record, called a special meeting in July to consider spending $250,000 to defend the city against a sealed complaint, then canceled the meeting as the DOJ quietly backed off.

Read the full article

East Side Tower Gets Final Approval

The City of Milwaukee has done its part to enable the development of a 25-story, high-end apartment tower in the Lower East Side neighborhood.

On Wednesday morning, The Common Council unanimously approved a zoning change to enable New Land Enterprises to develop the 318-unit building on a surface parking lot at the corner of N. Farwell Ave. and E. Curtis Pl.

Area Alderman Jonathan Brostoff acknowledged that his constituents have not universally endorsed the proposal, but said it was a net positive for the community and would grow the city’s tax base.

“Anytime we can transform surface-level parking lots to housing that’s going to save libraries and other services, it’s a pretty cool thing. I appreciate all of the neighbors that brought their concerns to me, but, on balance, this is a big win for Milwaukee,” said Brostoff.

Read the full article

City Seeks ‘Landmark Development’ for Downtown

The City of Milwaukee is seeking a private developer to turn a parking lot on W. Wisconsin Ave. into a “landmark development.”

A request for proposals (RFP) was issued Wednesday for the city-owned parking lot at 401-441 W. Wisconsin Ave. The development site is located behind the recently-approved Vel R. Phillips Plaza, slated to open in 2024.

The parcel “presents one of the most unique transit-oriented development opportunities in the Midwest,” said the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) in announcing the RFP. It is located between N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. and N. 5th St.

The 55,626-square-foot site sits across the street from the $456 million Baird Center convention center expansion and at a key Westown stop for the Milwaukee County Transit System‘s Connect bus rapid transit line. An extension of Milwaukee’s streetcar system is planned to bisect the site.

Read the full article

Assessment Error Costs Milwaukee $750,000

AT&T’s sale of its 20-story downtown building got someone inside City Hall a little too excited. The result will cost the City of Milwaukee $750,000.

The structure, 722-740 N. Broadway, drew headlines and discussions of its redevelopment potential when it was sold in June 2021 for $30.1 million. Those that noticed included at least one employee of the Assessor’s Office, which under state law doesn’t assess or tax telecommunications properties.

“We had an assessor [that] on their own looked at an ad in the paper and saw the property had sold and just automatically said ‘oh’ and put it back on the tax rolls,” said Alderman Michael Murphy, summarizing a private briefing on the matter, to members of the Finance & Personnel Committee on May 24. “There is no check and balance where it went up the chain of command to the head of the Assessor’s Office to say ‘hey, you’re putting a $30 million building on the tax roll property, are you sure that maybe this is the right thing to do?’ Zip. Nah. Nada.”

New property owner Reign Capital was sent a tax bill in 2022 for $732,558.19, but didn’t pay it. State statute 76.80 exempts telecommunications properties from local property taxes in favor of a state tax.

Read the full article

New Data Traces Milwaukee’s Long Foreclosure Crisis

The dramatic consequences of the late 2000s subprime mortgage crisis on Milwaukee neighborhoods are well known, but specific data on foreclosures has been remarkably difficult to come by.

Previous studies have documented plummeting homeownership across the city (particularly on the North Side), followed by a surge in out-of-state investment. But researchers have lacked public data on how many foreclosures occurred, who initiated them, which properties experienced them, and the subsequent ownership history of those parcels. To fill that gap, I have assembled a novel dataset of residential foreclosures matched to city parcel records for the years 1995 through 2022. This includes all detached single family homes, condos, duplexes, and triplexes. See the data note at the end of this article for details.

From 1995 through 2006, the city saw an average of 800 home foreclosures a year. Then, in 2007, there were over 1,300 foreclosures. That jumped again to almost 2,500 in 2008. During the decade of 2007-2016 my records show a total of 21,500 foreclosures.

The pandemic, with its attendant boom in home values, saw foreclosures drop to their lowest levels since at least 1995. I found records of 351 foreclosed homes in 2020, 393 in 2021, and 434 in 2022.

Read the full article

Veterans Complex Will Greatly Expand

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.

Read the full article

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