Midtown Center is a shopping center located between North 60th Street, West Capitol Drive and West Fond du Lac Avenue. The Lowe’s store there closed in 2009.
Now, a group of private investors plans to redevelop the vacant 116,000-square-foot building at 5800 W. Hope Ave. into a variety of entertainment venues including cinemas, a bowling center, a bounce house, an arcade, restaurants, a laser tag arena and spaces for private and public events, including concerts and comedy shows, according to Davis.
Davis said the project is a proposed public-private partnership between the city of Milwaukee and private investors, which he did not name.
“A major step in the development process will be the acquisition of the building still owned today by Lowe's – an eyesore to residents in the Midtown community that is adjacent to the neighboring vibrant and growing Midtown shopping center,” Davis said.
However, Davis’ announcement about the project appears to have caught the Department of City Development off guard. "We have been in ongoing discussions with people on all sides of this transaction and any announcement is premature," said DCD spokesman Jeff Fleming.
Public funds will be used to support the acquisition and construction of the new entertainment center in the former Midtown Lowe’s building, Davis said. Negotiations to acquire the property have been ongoing, he said.
“A formal purchase proposal was issued recently to Lowe's,” said Davis. “It’s the first step in an ongoing process that may take another 18 months to complete. We are not finished by any stretch of the imagination, as there are other major discussions to take place with several other parties to bring this type of project to the area.”
The development would be funded in part by the Midtown Center Tax Incremental District, Davis said.
The development project is expected to generate at least 250 temporary and permanent jobs, ranging from architects, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, security, to wait staff, ushers, cashiers, cooks, janitors, and greeters, Davis said. The goal is to hire as many Midtown residents as possible to fill the positions that will become available and to offer these residents an opportunity to develop their skills in a professional environment, he said.
“This is an exciting project for Midtown and the city of Milwaukee,” said Davis. “It generates needed jobs and provides resources so our community does not have to travel so far for quality entertainment and dining.”