Efforts increasing to revitalize North Avenue

Another RFP for North Avenue and investors purchase former American Linen Supply property.

Continuing its efforts to revitalize North Avenue, the City of Milwaukee has issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking developers interested in purchasing and redeveloping the former Finney Library property at 4243 W. North Ave., at the southeast corner of North Avenue and Sherman Boulevard. In addition, a group of investors recently purchased the former American Linen Supply Co. property at 1003 W. North Ave., with plans to redevelop the site.

The 29,800-square-foot Finney Library property has a 9,000-square-foot, single-story building and a 11,700-square-foot parking area. The city’s asking price for the property is $290,000.City officials want to see the property redeveloped for commercial use. Responses to the RFP are due on Sept. 19.

Last year the city issued an RFP for the Finney Library property, but the project was unsuccessful.

"We netted several proposals," said Department of City Development spokeswoman Andrea Rowe Richards. "We selected the one we thought best met the criteria. The developer was unable to obtain financing and had not obtained a tenant. We made the decision to move forward and re-issue the RFP."

This is the third North Avenue property that the city has issued an RFP for in recent weeks. The city recently issued a request for proposals (RPF) seeking developers interested in purchasing and renovating a two-story, 4,242-square-foot, 103-year-old building at 2121-23 W. North Ave. The city also recently issued an RFP seeking developers interested in purchasing and redeveloping a 5,144-square-foot, two-story, commercial building at 2501-03 W. North Ave., just a few blocks west of the 2121-23 W. North Ave. building.

North Avenue Development LLC, which includes Tom Schmitt and Sonny Bando, recently purchased the former American Linen Supply property from JSB Investment Group LLC for $350,000. The site at 1003 W. North Ave. has three industrial buildings with a total of 104,000 square feet of space.

"We have no immediate plans," Schmitt said. North Avenue Development is trying to determine what the best use would be for the property. The investors like the site because it is near the freeway and North Avenue exit is the first one north of downtown, he said.

Several other developments have occurred along North Avenue in recent years including the Touissant Square and Columbia Square mixed-use projects, Prince Hall Village, Scoopz Frozen Custard, Columbia Savings & Loan’s new building, Boulevard Commons (a low-income housing development under construction next to the Finney Library property) and a YMCA branch. City officials are also working to attract development along North Avenue, east of I-43 in the Bronzeville district, including a mixed-use development planned at North Avenue and 7th Street, planned by former Milwaukee Bucks coach Terry Porter.

"We do see that there is momentum on North Avenue," Rowe Richards said. "Part of North Avenue was recently designated one of our two new Main Street districts. We are seeing a continued interest in projects along that area. Within the last three years we’ve seen a lot of activity in that area."

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