Alderman wants $3.5 million in escrow from Goll Mansion tower developer

Bauman says money will ensure hiring, architectural requirements are met

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The developer who has been attempting to build a 27-story apartment tower behind the Goll Mansion on Milwaukee’s East Side for more than a year could face another challenge.

Updated rendering of apartment tower.

Alderman Robert Bauman, who represents the district where the mansion is located and has vehemently opposed the $55 million project, has asked developer Chris Houden to put $3.5 million into two separate escrow accounts.

The money would ensure the Madison-based developer meets the city’s Residents Preference Program and Small Business Enterprise requirements and that Houden abides by Historic Preservation Commission recommendations when he moves and restores the Goll Mansion, Bauman said in a memorandum to the city.

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Projects that receive financing from the city, such as the Northwestern Mutual headquarters and the Milwaukee Bucks arena, have to follow specific hiring requirements.

However, Houden, is not requesting any money from the city for the project at 1550 N. Prospect Ave. Nevertheless he has, on numerous occasions, said he will meet RPP requirements voluntarily.

Northwestern Mutual, the Milwaukee Bucks and other developers who have received city financing have not had to put money in escrow accounts to assure they would meet the hiring agreements.

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“Since the developer is not receiving direct financial assistance from the city for this project, the city presently has no means of holding the developer accountable for fulfilling its commitment to hiring Milwaukee residents and using small business enterprises,” Bauman’s memorandum said.

Houden and Bauman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bauman would like $2.5 million of the escrow money to be used to fund renovation of city-owned foreclosed homes in the greater Sherman Park area if Houden fails to meet hiring requirements.

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The other $1 million would be transferred to the Housing Infrastructure Preservation Fund capital account if Houden does not properly restore and preserve the Goll Mansion.

Bauman wants the money in the accounts before building permits are issued.

“The Goll Mansion is an outstanding example of Elizabethan/Jacobean Revival residential architecture that was designed by famed Milwaukee architects Ferry and Clas and is one of the last remaining grand mansions that once lined the city’s  Gold Coast,” Bauman’s memorandum said “The preservation of historic structures is tantamount to maintaining and growing Milwaukee’s property values, connecting residents to the city’s rich history, and sustaining the attractiveness of the built environment in Milwaukee’s older neighborhoods.”

Last summer, Houden’s proposal was unanimously approved at the city’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee and won approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

More than half the Common Council voted in favor of the proposal, but the plan was ultimately defeated because it did not receive a supermajority, which was needed because residents of the 1522 Prospect On the Lake condo building next door submitted a protest petition.

In August, the plan commission voted in favor of a revised Goll Mansion proposal.

It will likely head back to the city’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee Sept. 19. That committee will also review Bauman’s proposal.

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