Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:24 pm
Brownfield issues hound animal hospital project
Construction of a 6,200-square-foot veterinary hospital at 2342 N. Newhall St. on Milwaukee’s east side is under way after months of delays related to the parcel’s history as an industrial site.
Small Animal Hospital LLC, owned by veterinarians Diane Bennetts and Pam Geiken, will relocate to the new facility from its current location at 2163 N. Farwell Ave. upon completion in October, according to practice manager Barbara Clingman.
Scherrer Construction Co., Burlington, the general contractor for the project, is erecting the building’s frame, according to Clingman.
"This has been in the works for a very long time," Clingman said, adding that the practice closed on the purchase of the property from the City of Milwaukee in May.
"Various issues had come up along the way in terms of the environmental issues and some of the construction issues related to the soils," said Richard Suminski, an architect with Balestrieri-Kehoe & Associates, the Elkhorn firm designing the project. "Those were all addressed over a period of time. The timeline got extended. We took the project on in 2001 and just currently have really gotten in the ground."
A long construction timeline is par for the course when redeveloping a brownfield, according to Thomas Mueller, principal with the Environmental Management Co., a Cedarburg-based business working with the hospital to deal with regulatory issues and obtain funding for the project.
"Anytime you are doing a brownfields redevelopment, jumping over hurdles and removing road blocks is what we do," Mueller said. "Many problems were encountered on this site."
Soils on the site contained hydrocarbon contamination from an underground petroleum storage tank, according to Mueller, with chlorinated solvents that were probably dumped by a dry cleaning business that had been located nearby.
However, chemicals in the soil were only one challenge to be dealt with. The veterinarians and their team of consultants also had to work around the load-bearing capacity of the soils.
"When we did the geotechnical study to find out what kind of foundation was required, we found there was a significant amount of incinerator ash," Mueller said. "The city may have used this as a place to dump municipal incinerator ash. This led to additional foundation costs of $70,000."
The discovery of ash extended the timeline as well, according to Mueller, as additional testing and an exemption from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources were required to allow the company to build on the historic landfill.
However, there is an upside to all the hassles involved in building on the brownfield, according to Mueller. The site is within blocks of the Small Animal Hospital’s current location, where it had been since 1929.
"If someone were to say that there was in excess of one acre available on the east side of Milwaukee, I wouldn’t believe them," Mueller said. "Their business is growing substantially, and at their new site, there is even additional room there in the future if they decide to put in a boarding clinic."
Some of the ash on the site will be moved to fill a low area near the east side of the parcel, according to Mueller. The ash will then be capped with clean soil.
Small Animal Hospital purchased the 1-acre tax-delinquent brownfield parcel from the City of Milwaukee.
The Environmental Management Co. helped the animal facility secure funding to pay remediation costs from several sources, and will learn in September whether an application for a $40,000 Milwaukee County Brownfields Grant is successful.
The animal clinic has already received:
— A $95,000 brownfields grant from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.
— A $30,000 site assessment grant from the Department of Natural Resources and the City of Milwaukee.
— An $8,300 grant from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp.
July 25, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee