City plans to acquire America’s Black Holocaust Museum property

The City of Milwaukee’s Redevelopment Authority plans to purchase the America’s Black Holocaust Museum property at 2233 N. 4th St. for $250,000, to control a key site in the Bronzeville district.

The museum closed earlier this year but its lender, North Shore Bank, has delayed foreclosure actions to give the museum an opportunity to re-open. The bank has also agreed to release its collateral interest in the museum’s exhibits.

After it purchases the property, the city would first give the museum an opportunity to re-open, said Department of City Development spokeswoman Andrea Rowe Richards. However, if the museum is unable to re-open at that site the city would sell the property for another use that would fit with the vision established for the Bronzeville African-American cultural and entertainment district, she said.

"We want to make sure (the property’s) use is compatible with Bronzeville," Rowe Richards said. "If (the museum) can’t exist in that location, we want that location to still be significant to the Bronzeville district."

The city also plans to acquire the former Grant’s Soul Food Restaurant building at 411 W. North Ave., which is located next to the Black Holocaust Museum and is owned by Albert Grant Jr. The restaurant is closed and Grant does not plan to re-open the business, Rowe Richards said. The one-story, 1,605-square-foot building has an assessed value of $134,000, according to city records. The city also plans to sell that property for a use compatible with the Bronzeville vision, Rowe Richards said.

Acquiring the museum and the restaurant properties would give the city complete control of the southwest corner of North 4th Street and West North Avenue, a key corner in the Bronzeville district.

Development has been limited in the Bronzeville district so far, but city officials have been engaged in the "un-glamorous work of property acquisition and assembly for about the last year or so (to set the stage for development)," Rowe Richards said. The city also plans to begin work next year on a Bronzeville street-scaping project along North Avenue between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and 7th Street.

The Redevelopment Authority will review the proposed property acquisitions on Thursday.

Also, a Bronzeville developer’s forum will be held from 2:30-4:15 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Department of City Development offices, 809 N. Broadway, Milwaukee. The event is open to developers, lenders, commercial real estate brokers, retailers, home builders, architects, engineers and tradesmen. Topics that will be discussed include: Bronzeville development opportunities, the Bronzeville housing initiative, city requests for proposal and city property inventory.

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