City seeks to acquire, sell Esperanza Unida buildings

Non-profit owes more than $75,000 in back property taxes on National Avenue properties

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:58 pm

Esperanza Unida building
The city has issued an RFP for the Esperanza Unida site on National Avenue.

The city of Milwaukee plans to acquire the Esperanza Unida buildings on National Avenue and will issue a request for proposals seeking a developer to acquire and redevelop the properties.

Meanwhile, the city treasurer’s office is preparing to file a foreclosure action against the non-profit organization by March 29 for property taxes owed on the buildings for 2015 and 2016 totaling $75,532.

Once that action is filed, Esperanza Unida would have about two months to stop the foreclosure, said Kerry Urban, special assistant to city treasure. The city anticipates receiving tax foreclosure judgment on the properties, located at 1313 and 1329-1331 W. National Ave., in mid-July, according to the RFP.

Esperanza Unida, an organization focused on workforce and economic development, is currently located at 2825 N. Mayfair Road in Wauwatosa.

Executive director Manuel Perez said he has found someone to rent the parking lot at 1329 W. National Ave., who in exchange, will pay the 2015 taxes, which total about $61,000. By doing so, the city cannot sell his property, Perez said.

“The city has indicated taxes for 2015 are due at the end of March, and if they are not received they will send legal notice, which allows me eight weeks to pay after that foreclosure will ensue,” Perez said. “I have no choice but to offer the place for rent. Portions of the area have been leased and one of the companies are interested in making a payment.”

The RFP for the properties is due on May 11. The city is asking $225,000 for the properties, which are 72,218 total square feet and have a combined assessed value of $646,300.

Jeff Fleming, spokesman for the Milwaukee Department of City Development, said if Perez can pay off his taxes, the city will not take his property.

There are also several liens on the National Avenue property, which transferred over from Esperanza Unida’s former building at 611 W. National Ave. The city seized that property in 2014, after the non-profit failed to pay property taxes.

“State law allows us to effectively move property from tax foreclosure into private hands, we have been very straight forward about our process” Fleming said. “This is an important property in an important neighborhood that has a lot of good things going for it. We want this corner to be a bright spot and as of right now, it’s not.”


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