Cousins Center site needs a visionary

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has hired two local commercial real estate brokerages, Colliers Barry and RFP Commercial, to market for sale the Archbishop Cousins Catholic Center property in St. Francis at 3501 S. Lake Drive.

Colliers Barry and Bob Flood, a principal with RFP, have a history of doing real estate work for the archdiocese, Flood said.

The brokers said they will market the property to a wide variety of businesses, developers and investors.
The potential new uses of the Cousins Center site are almost infinite, as they could be educational, institutional, recreational, residential, retail or office.

James T. Barry III, president and chief executive officer of Colliers Barry, said, "I think we’re going to cast as broad of a net as possible. We don’t want to constrict our marketing of it because it is such a unique property. When you look at where it’s situated, it is a very unique property. It will be a very interesting deal."

The archdiocese is selling the Cousins Center property, which has been its administrative headquarters since 1983, to generate revenue to help pay for its $8.25 million share of a legal settlement with 10 victims of clergy sexual abuse in California. The Cousins Center, a 415,000-square-foot complex that sits on a 44-acre site, is located across the street from Bay View Park, which is right along Lake Michigan.

“It’s just a marvelous piece of land,” Flood said. “We want to work with the governing parties to make sure it is put to the highest and best use.”

In addition to the archdiocese’s offices, some retired priests live at the Cousins Center, and the Milwaukee Bucks use part of the complex as a practice and training facility. The archdiocese plans to move its offices to the St. Francis Seminary grounds, located at 3257 S. Lake Drive, just to the north of the Cousins Center.

The sale of the Cousins Center will be subject to a restriction on the development of 7.88 acres of woodlands (known as Seminary Woods), located along the northwestern portion of the property.

Barry said the brokers have not yet placed a price tag on the lakefront property, because the Cousins Center is such a “prime and unique” site, and the price ultimately will depend upon the buyer’s plans to develop the site. Barry said the brokers will seek a request for proposals from qualified buyers for the property.

“There might be someone who has a very creative idea” for the site, Barry said. “We’re kind of reversing the process.”

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