Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Park East Site To Be Relisted For Sale

Proposed $60 million hotel and apartment complex on downtown land never happened..

By - Jun 6th, 2023 04:04 pm
Block 22 in the Park East. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Block 22 in the Park East. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County is changing gears on a now long-vacant Park East block in hopes of finding a new buyer to develop the site.

According to a report from interim economic development director Celia Benton, the county is going back to the drawing board on Block 22 and will list it for sale for the fourth time.

The decision comes after developer Cornelius McClendon‘s purchase option was allowed to expire in January. McClendon, who secured a purchase option in 2020, had initially proposed a $60 million hotel and apartment complex for the 2.28-acre block bounded by N. Water St., E. Ogden Ave. N. Milwaukee St. and N. Broadway. His firm, McClendon Capital Group, was to pay the county $3.5 million for the property.

“Prior to January 2023, McClendon discussed with the County some concerns and delays they were experiencing related to modifications to their project plans, a request to amend the proposed purchase price, and some project funding delays and issues,” wrote Benton in her report to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. She said negotiations around renewing the lapsed option took place, but discussions about changing the purchase price and the evolving nature of the project triggered the need to issue a new request for proposals (RFP).

McClendon is the third developer who has pursued development of the site, one of several vacant lots created by the removal of the Park East Freeway in the early 2000s. Wangard Partners held an option to purchase the site from 2016 through 2018. The Opus Group and Mercy Housing also partnered on an RFP response in 2013 that was endorsed by a review board only to stall before the county board.

It’s the last Park East full-block parcel still controlled by Milwaukee County. Parcels on the west side of the river were pledged to an affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks as part of the arena development. Parcels on the east side of the river have been sold individually.

The site slopes downhill towards the river and has a five-sided, irregular shape. Immediately to the south, a new apartment building is under construction. To the east, the first phase of the Avenir apartment complex occupies a third of another former Park East block. Weidner Investment Services has yet to develop the second and third phases, in violation of a development agreement with the county. The Mandel Group‘s multi-building The North End complex is located to the north. To the west is Milwaukee School of Engineering‘s Viets Field, also built atop former county land, and the 1433 Water office building.

The county, wrote Benton, would seek a new appraisal of the site before listing it under a new request for proposals. McClendon is not precluded from bidding to secure a new purchase option for the site.

For several years, McClendon also pursued the redevelopment of a former Perlick factory in the 30th Street Corridor into affordable apartments. The project failed to secure competitively-awarded low-income housing tax credits and the site is now listed for sale.

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.

Related Legislation: File 23-619

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