Bradley Center lives on through Habitat’s deconstruction

2019 Giving Guide

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:10 pm

The $90 million structure that housed Milwaukee’s premier sports and entertainment offerings for the past 30 years will be razed by summer 2019, but not everything inside the building will cease to exist.

Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity in September completed an eight-day deconstruction project at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, salvaging approximately 60,000 pounds and $50,000 worth of reusable materials to be resold at the organization’s three Habitat ReStore locations in Walker’s Point, Greenfield and Wauwatosa.

The project was part of a larger philanthropic effort announced in June by the Milwaukee Bucks, which owns the Bradley Center’s four-acre site and is responsible for its demolition. Rather than disposing of the center’s leftover fixtures and amenities that were not sold to direct buyers, the Bucks donated items such as doors, countertops and electrical equipment to Habitat, Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee.

Volunteers from Milwaukee Tool and Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity’s deconstruction team take down fixtures from the Bradley Center’s club level.
Credit: Lila Aryan Photography

The total value of the donated items was estimated to be well into the seven figures, Bucks representatives said.

During its largest deconstruction project to date, Habitat’s deconstruction services team recovered various fixtures from the Bradley Center’s luxury suites, locker rooms and concourse areas for resale. The Bucks’ donation directly supported the nonprofit’s mission to build affordable housing, said Brian Sonderman, executive director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity.

“As the Bucks move into a new home, and through their generosity that allows us to sell these items, we’ll be able to provide Milwaukee families with a place to call home for years to come, as well,” he said.

Proceeds from Habitat ReStores, which resell donated new and used furniture, appliances, building materials and other home goods, help cover the cost of supplies and equipment needed for the organization’s homebuilding initiatives. Last year, Milwaukee’s three ReStores sold more than $2 million worth of donated product – that’s 6 million pounds of reusable materials that did not end up in a landfill, according to Habitat.

More than 100 volunteers worked alongside Habitat’s deconstruction crew during the Bradley Center project, logging a collective total of 1,000 volunteer hours over the eight days, said Jake Weiler, Habitat’s deconstruction services manager.

That number included groups from Milwaukee Tool, Fiserv Inc. and We Energies. Corporate groups typically approach Habitat, requesting to assist with its widely known homebuilding projects, but the expansive Bradley Center deconstruction needed extra hands and there was excitement around the high-profile project, Weiler said.

“Through their generous volunteerism, we were able to tackle the biggest project we could ever imagine,” Weiler said. “It seems like we have a very high rate of volunteerism in our region and this is a great example of it – our team from internal, but also external joining together to do a common good.”

Habitat’s deconstruction team completes commercial and residential demolition projects on a weekly basis to salvage reusable material, including cabinetry, lighting and plumbing fixtures, flooring and HVAC, for resale. The group, for a $250 fee, performs demolitions on residential kitchens that are about to be remodeled.

Last year, Habitat recovered more than $600,000 worth of resale product.

Among the salvaged items from the Bradley Center were cabinetry, which was re-priced at $150 per cabinet; luxury box seating re-priced at $30 per seat; and carpet squares re-priced at $2 each. In addition, Bucks lockers sold for $120 each, with Milwaukee Admirals lockers selling for $60 each.

“A lot of this stuff does not belong in a landfill,” Weiler said. “It has a second life to it, and because of the deconstruction team, the volunteers and ReStore, the community has access to it and someone else is going to have a great product for years to come.” 

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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