Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Committee Picks KG Development Partnership To Build New King Drive Apartments

Affordable development includes three commercial tenants, would replace vacant funeral home.

By - Jun 5th, 2023 12:56 pm
KG Development proposal for 3116 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Rendering by Abacus Architects.

KG Development proposal for 3116 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Rendering by Abacus Architects.

After weighing two competing proposals, the Bronzeville Advisory Committee selected KG Development to develop an $18.3 million mixed-use apartment building at the intersection of N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and W. Burleigh St.

The building would include 67 apartments, the majority set aside at affordable rates, and three commercial stalls with pre-selected tenants, including a small grocery store.

“We look forward to seeing your project advance,” said committee chair LaShawndra Vernon after the committee debated the two proposals in closed session. The Department of City Development, backed by the committee’s input, will advance the proposal to the full Common Council for adoption.

KG and competing bidder Northernstar Companies made public pitches to redevelop a 1.1-acre city-owned property in May, then answered questions before the committee Monday morning.

With project partners One 5 Olive, the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation (MLK EDC) and Abacus Architects, KG intends to develop a four-story building on the site.

Competitively-awarded low-income housing tax credits would be used as the primary financing source and, as a result, at least 80% of the apartments would be set aside at below-market rates for qualifying households.

“The target is really to get intergenerational housing, and thinking about what Milwaukee needs as well,” said KG partner Anthony Kazee when the committee met in May. Approximately half of the units would be reserved for seniors, those ages 55 and above.

Twenty-five percent of the units would be set aside for those in need of supportive housing, including those with intellectual disabilities or at risk of homelessness. Kazee, on Monday, said his development team is working with the Milwaukee County Division of Health and Human Services on the supportive units. Vista Care and Care Management Plus Health Services, depending on the resident’s needs, would provide supportive services. KG partner Jamie Gray, a nurse practitioner, operates Care Management Plus.

Two commercial tenants, Sherman Park Grocery and Pam’s Learning Center, would own their space in the building. A third, Harambee Meat Company, would lease its space. A total of 7,500 square feet of first-floor commercial space is planned. Harambee Meat Company would teach culinary skills and offer cooking classes in its space. Pam’s Learning Center is operated by Kazee’s aunt, Pamela Kazee.

Sherman Park Grocery would operate the store as a second location, joining the store it opened last summer at 4315 W. Fond du Lac Ave. Owner Maurice “Mo” Wince told the committee he was excited to open the new store.

Pam’s Learning Center would relocate from a space located a few blocks away. It would allow the business to grow and, as Gray said in May, help create a community within the building.

Kazee, who grew up in and lives in the Harambee neighborhood, said his development team would use the Open Table platform to convene residents and stakeholders in the project.

In both meetings, KG faced questions from area Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs and others about its 2020 proposal to develop Five Points Lofts three blocks to the north. That project received low-income housing tax credits, but is one of several projects imperiled by significant increases in construction costs during the pandemic. “We believe our Five Points project will prove to be more challenging to move towards construction compared to King Drive and Burleigh,” said Kazee on Monday. He detailed a lengthy list of cost mitigation options the team is already considering for the latest project should similar challenges emerge.

There is light at the end of the tunnel for the Five Points Lofts project. Kazee, in May, said the project’s financing package was scheduled to be completed in late June. Construction permits are pending for the project.

Another KG project caught in a similar financial crunch, the Riverwest Workforce Apartments & Food Accelerator, has a proposed $1.25 million, developer-financed tax incremental financing district subsidy pending before the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee.

TEAM Management would serve as the property manager for the newest proposal and the Riverwest development.

The committee, meeting virtually, didn’t elaborate on why they chose the KG proposal other than to say it scored the highest.

“We appreciated the excitement and preparation that went into each project,” said Vernon.

“Thank you very much to the committee. We appreciate this opportunity,” said Nicole Robbins, executive director of the MLK EDC. The nonprofit has developed several affordable housing buildings on King Drive and is also a partner on the Five Points project.

Northernstar was publicly gracious in defeat.

“We expect this to be a net gain for the entire community,” said firm founder Brandon Methu.

Last year, both firms were on the losing side of a three-way bidding process to develop the largely-vacant, city-owned site at the intersection of N. 6th St. and W. North Ave.

“I look forward to the win for Northernstar and I know it’s coming,” said Vernon.

Methu asked that his firm be given feedback, which DCD real estate services manager Amy Turim said could be done with the committee’s help following council approval of KG’s application.

Northernstar, with Horizon Development Group and Continuum Architects + Planners, proposed a 62-unit affordable apartment building. A dialysis center and healthy cafe were proposed for the first floor, but the Northernstar team also discussed at length the potential for the first floor to be used by the SHULAR Institute for a culinary training facility.

Both development teams proposed to demolish the two-story, 7,500-square-foot former funeral home on the property, at 3116 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. The funeral home was originally constructed in 1929 and has been vacant for several years. The city took over the property and has pursued redevelopment since at least 2014. The latest proposals came via a 2022 request for proposals. Both teams offered to pay $30,000 for the property.

KG and Northernstar both envisioned collaboration with the Clinton Rose Senior Center and Clinton Rose Park located across the street.


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