Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

City Seeks Developer For Land at 16th and Forest Home

Deal will even include part of the street. Plus: recap of the week's real estate news.

By - Jul 23rd, 2023 02:34 pm
Forest Home Avenue development site. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Forest Home Avenue development site. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The City of Milwaukee is seeking a developer to transform a vacant lot at the intersection of S. 16th Street and W. Forest Home Avenue. It’ll even throw in part of the street to allow for a bigger project.

The approximately 16,800-square-foot site has been vacant since 1980, a result of a scheme to reconfigure the intersection to favor higher speeds for motorists that the city is now seeking to partially reverse amidst an epidemic of reckless driving.

A slip lane for southbound vehicles turning west on W. Forest Home Avenue is already temporarily closed. A partnership of Muskego Way Forward and the Wisconsin Bike Fed converted it and the vacant lot into a pop-up park as part of a pilot of a Department of Public Works community plaza program.

The Department of City Development (DCD) would now like to see the slip lane, designed so vehicles don’t need to slow down significantly when turning, disappear permanently. DCD recommends prospective developers consider merging it into the vacant site, a practice it endorsed in 2019 for an unbuilt Walker’s Point building. The addition would also give the Forest Home lot a more rectangular shape.

DCD’s request for proposals (RFP) touts the high visibility of the site, and its accessibility.

“This lot is located on an intersection of two highly visible commercial corridors with a mix of neighborhood commercial and residential,” says the RFP. “The site offers strong access to South Side neighborhoods, Mitchell Street, Cesar Chavez Drive, [Interstate 43] and Bay View, and features a daily traffic count of 14,700 vehicles. DCD is seeking dynamic development proposals that maximize the site and will catalyze complementary developments.”

The asking price is $29,000. Bids are due August 31.

The RFP doesn’t mention them, but there are two nearby precedents for new development. In 2019, an O’Reilly Auto Parts store, 1559 W. Forest Home Ave., opened kitty-corner from the development site. A few blocks northeast, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin developed a new clinic in 2021 at the site of the former Forest Home Library.

DCD is asking for larger buildings than the two recently-completed structures. The RFP imposes a two-story minimum height. Emphasis is to be placed on creating a pedestrian-friendly street frontage that aligns with the remaining late 1800s storefront buildings to the southwest.

“Street-level, pedestrian-oriented commercial uses that activate the area, such as retail, restaurant, café, bakery, deli, hotel, mixed-use office/retail/residential, etc. are encouraged for the first floor,” says the RFP.

Vehicle access to the site is to be accommodated via S. Amy Place at the rear of the site. The short street once bisected the lot and connected with W. Forest Home Avenue, but it was redirected east to S. 16th Street. as part of the 1980s slip lane installation.

There is a fairly long list of uses, standard for city land sales, for which offers will not be entertained: “tavern/bar as primary use, surface parking as a primary or secondary use, rooming houses, check-cashing facilities, pawn shops, automobile sales, service stations, car washes, tax-exempt/non-profit uses, recycling processing, cigarette or cigar shops, gun shops, drive-thru of any kind, and auto-title or payday loan stores.”

The site, legally speaking, is currently two parcels, 1935 S. 16th St. and 1616 W. Forest Home Ave. It previously housed three buildings, a filling station that was demolished in 1978 with its underground tanks removed, a two-story tavern, bowling alley and apartment structure that was demolished in 1980 and a two-story mixed-use building that was razed in 1977.

Despite the former presence of underground tanks, there is no state environmental record for the property says an associated property report. “Developer will be responsible for environmental investigations and mitigation,” says the RFP.

The final sale is subject to Common Council approval.

A copy of the RFP and an associated historical land use report are available on Urban Milwaukee.


Weekly Recap

Park Being Renamed After Milwaukee Jazz Legend

A Milwaukee park will be renamed after musician Al Jarreau as part of a larger renovation plan.

The Cawker Play Area, near the intersection of N. 30th Street and W. Locust Street, is one of several dozen city-owned parks.

Jarreau won six Grammy awards during his career, including the 1982 award for “Best Male Pop Vocal Performance,” and was nominated for 13 more. He found his love for music growing up in Milwaukee, then became a professional musician while living in California. Known primarily for performing jazz music, Jarreau crossed genres into R&B, soul and pop music. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 76 after several decades of touring.

The play area has already been identified as a target for improvement by the city’s MKE Plays program. Artist Tia Richardson is creating a new fence mural and basketball court mural for the park. Other improvements are planned.

Read the full article

Micro Hospital Takes Shape Near Airport

A new “micro-hospital” is under construction on Milwaukee’s far South Side.

The emerging health care model is designed to provide less expensive care closer to where patients live and, possibly, relieve stress on major hospitals. And while Milwaukee’s nonprofit health care conglomerates have tested their own facilities, the new model is creating space for new, for-profit operators to enter the market.

Houston-based Nutex Health, a publicly-traded company, is developing a facility near the airport that will include up to eight inpatient beds and 10 emergency room beds.

The company, according to a Board of Zoning Appeals filing, anticipates serving between 10 to 40 patients per day and offering a full range of emergency services, including MRI and CT scanning, a “moderate complexity” laboratory, full pharmacy, advanced cardiac monitoring and ventilators.

Read the full article

Public Meetings On King Park Homeownership Project Announced

Milwaukee County is holding a series of information meetings on homeownership projects coming to the King Park neighborhood.

In 2022, Milwaukee County used approximately $6 million in COVID-19 stimulus funds from the state to advance a major housing initiative in King Park that will develop 120 homes for low-income, first-time homebuyers. The county partnered with the Community Development Alliance (CDA) on the project, which was actually drawn from a city-wide affordable housing plan created by the CDA in 2021. Paired with the project is a $1.5 million investment in repairs to the King Park Community Center.

Two developers were selected for the project. Habitat for Humanity will build 80 single-family homes and Emem Group will build 20 duplexes.

The public information meetings are being hosted by the county’s Office of Equity and CDA and they begin July 22.

Read the full article

Port Celebrates Biggest Investment In 60 Years

“Milwaukee and Wisconsin are inextricably linked. They belong together, like peanut butter and jelly,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson Monday morning. “We have a symbiotic relationship between the city and the state. We’re proud to be the economic engine of Wisconsin, and that’s good for Wisconsin, but it’s also good for the entirety of our state.”

City, state, federal and private industry representatives gathered Tuesday to celebrate what port director Jackie Q. Carter said was the word of the day: partnership.

The partners cut the ribbon on The DeLong Company‘s $45 million Agricultural Maritime Export Facility (AMEF), the largest investment in Milwaukee’s port since the Saint Lawrence Seaway opened in the 1950s.

The AMEF will be used to export an ethanol byproduct, dry distillers grain with solubles (DDGS), to Europe and northern Africa, as well as other agricultural products. It’s the first port on the Great Lakes capable of handling DDGS, which is moisture-laden and poorly suited for shipping containers. DDGS is used as a nutrient-rich feed to supplement animal diets.

Read the full article

Plan Commission Okays Huge Housing Development

Royal Capital Group‘s proposal to redevelop a 51.4-acre YMCA property on the city’s far Northwest Side into a 1,145-unit housing development took a key step forward Monday, but not before Alderwoman Larresa Taylor asked the City Plan Commission to slow things down.

The three-phase project would create the “Cudahy Farms Healthy Living Campus” on a largely undeveloped site northeast of the intersection of N. 91st Street and W. Brown Deer Road. Royal Capital intends to use low-income housing tax credits to finance much of the first phase, while adding owner-occupied townhomes in its second phase.

The first phase includes 15 new buildings with 377 housing units, 224 of which would be two-bedroom or three-bedroom apartments and 153 seniors-only, one-bedroom units. The tax credits set aside units at below-market rates for households with incomes that do not exceed set thresholds. Royal Capital executive vice president Terrell J. Walter estimated rental rates would range from $500 to $1,600 depending on household size and income level.

Walter, speaking to the plan commission Monday afternoon, said the firm would keep the 30,000-square-foot YMCA building and the all-abilities baseball diamond. The YMCA building would be repurposed as a childcare center and resident amenity building. An all-abilities baseball league, the Miracle League, would continue to use the field.

Read the full article

Walker’s Point Apartment Proposal Seeks Zoning Variance

A proposed Walker’s Point apartment building will receive a public review later this month.

New Land Enterprises is seeking approval to develop a 65-unit apartment building at the southeast corner of S. 4th Street and W. Florida Street, a site that currently includes a parking lot and two houses. The new complex, which would be New Land’s fifth in the neighborhood, would rise six stories and include a mix of market-rate, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. It follows a design pattern with which the firm has found substantial success leasing units.

The Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to review the proposal, and any community feedback, on July 27.

The $11 million project needs a zoning variance (not a full zoning change), because it exceeds density limits for the 15,821-square-foot lot, does not contain large enough windows on its first floor and has garage doors closer to the street than allowed by the code. The site, like much of the formerly industrial southside neighborhood, is currently zoned “Industrial-Mixed” which allows for housing development. New Land’s variance submission says the maximum number of apartments it would be able to build without special approval is 52 under the zoning code.

Read the full article

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