City receives redevelopment proposals for Bronzeville sites

City of Milwaukee officials are reviewing two redevelopment proposals for the former Garfield School property at 2215 N. Fourth Ave. and for the former America’s Black Holocaust Museum property southwest of Fourth and North avenues, next to the former Garfield School.

The former Garfield School and former Black Holocaust Museum properties are both controlled by the city.

The proposals came from Oregon, Wis.-based Gorman & Company Inc. and from a group led by Milwaukee-based Maures Development Group LLC,

Gorman & Company wants to convert the former school building into 37 units of affordable housing for musicians and artists to live and work in the building. Gorman also wants to demolish the buildings north of the former school building, including the former Black Holocaust Museum, to build a new three-story, 47,500-square-foot building with a plaza between the former school building and the new building. Gorman has submitted a proposal to the city to move the Martin Luther King Library branch currently located at 310 W. Locust St. to the new building that it wants to build at the former Black Holocaust Museum site. The library would occupy 15,000 square feet on the ground floor of the new building. However, Gorman says the proposal is not contingent on the relocation of the library. The ground floor space could be filled by retail users. The upper floors could be used for market rate apartments. The building could also have office space and a coffee shop.

“Our team has been approached by many retail users and office users for space in this new building and if an appropriate retail user is found on the ground floor we could also have market rate apartments above,” Gorman & Company’s submission to the city of Milwaukee states. “We have been in discussions with several high profile coffee shop operators who are very interested in located at this location if the library chooses to relocate here.”

The cost for the Gorman & Company project is $6.67 million for the redevelopment of the former Garfield School and $4.4 million for the new building at the former Black Holocaust Museum site, a total of about $11 million.

Maures Development Group LLC is partnering with CommonBond Communities Inc., Universal Companies and Engberg Anderson on a $15.7 million redevelopment proposal for the former Garfield School and former Black Holocaust Museum sites.

That development team has submitted a proposal with a first phase that would create 62 apartments, some newly constructed and some in the former Garfield School building, a new home for the Black Holocaust Museum, 20,000 square feet of cultural/commercial space and a public plaza. The project includes a new four-story building at the corner of North and 4th with 32 apartments above 8,557 square feet of commercial space.

The second phase of the project including townhome-style or multi-story rental apartments could also be included on the western portion of the site or across Fourth Street to the east if that property becomes available in the future.

The proposed redevelopment projects for the former Garfield School and former Black Holocaust Museum sites could provide a much needed boost for revitalization efforts in the city’s Bronzeville District.

The proposals will be reviewed Friday by the city’s Bronzeville Advisory Committee. The Common Council and Mayor Tom Barrett will ultimately decide which development proposal, if any, to choose.

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