Common council to vote on sale of Malcolm X Academy

The Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) board of directors and administration are seeking approval from the Milwaukee Common Council to sell the district’s former Malcolm X Academy building for $2.1 million to 2760 Holdings, LLC.


The action, voted on during a special board meeting on Monday night, represents the first step in moving forward with the board’s proposed plans to transform the Malcolm X property into a community resource center.

The proposed sale of the Malcolm X building, which is owned by the City of Milwaukee, must be reviewed and approved by the Milwaukee Common Council before any further action can be taken.

While the Common Council must authorize the transaction of the property, sale dollars would go to MPS.

The board’s decision on Monday night was met with disappointment and outrage from scores of St. Marcus Lutheran School supporters, who attended the special meeting to reiterate their desire for Malcolm X to be sold to St. Marcus as part of its expansion plan.

The K3-8 Milwaukee Choice School has rallied in recent months for MPS to allow St. Marcus to purchase the Malcolm X property so that it can serve 600 K4 through eighth-grade students and 300 students in early childhood development on top of the 750 students its serves at its current 2215 N. Palmer St. campus.

St. Marcus projects that it would invest $5 million to $8 million into the Harambee neighborhood, where Malcolm X is located, with its proposed expansion plan.

Following a public march the school held in Milwaukee in September, MPS offered St. Marcus the opportunity to purchase one of three other vacant MPS facilities – the former Garfield Elementary School building, Lee Elementary School or Edison Middle School.

However, none of those three facilities are viable options, St. Marcus officials said.

“The reality is that the three buildings they offered us are far too small, far too outdated (and) over 60 blocks away from St. Marcus – things that they knew would not work for our family,” said Henry Tyson, superintendent of St. Marcus.

Tyson thanked St. Marcus students, faculty, and families among others for expressing their support at Monday night’s meeting and urged them to reach out to their alderperson and Mayor Tom Barrett to ensure that the process ahead is a “fair” one.

“What we want is a fair process where the city government listens to the people of our city and listens to what they want and then votes accordingly,” Tyson told St. Marcus supporters. “So please don’t be discouraged. You’ve done the right thing by showing up. We’re going to continue to push this issue.”

MPS officials, however, stand firm that the board’s proposed community resource center recognizes the needs and desires of the community at large.

A collaborative community planning session hosted by UW-Milwaukee with input from the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation, the Martin Luther King Drive Business Improvement District, the Milwaukee Department of City Development, and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority affirmed the demand for the board’s proposed community resource center, according to MPS officials.

“We’re quite frankly very excited and think this is a great opportunity for the community to really have something that it has asked for, and that is a community center that will really work to serve the community’s needs,” said Denise Callaway, executive director of community engagement for MPS.

Should the Common Council authorize the sale of Malcolm X to 2760 Holdings, LLC, the holding company will develop, own and operate the property.

2760 Holdings, LLC is partially owned by the principals of Milwaukee-based JCP Construction.

Together, JCP Construction and MPS are exploring the idea of MPS leasing back a portion of the Malcolm X property so that the building can contain an educational component overseen by the district.

JCP Construction also envisions an undisclosed third party nonprofit organization operating the property to “ensure that there is public use by both the gym and the auditorium facilities” within the building, said James Phelps, president of JCP Construction.

Phelps is optimistic as the vote heads to the Common Council.

“We are pleased by the decision and are staying tuned for the next vote, which will be at the City of Milwaukee,” Phelps said.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display