Former Schuster’s on King Drive chosen for Medical College, Greater Milwaukee Foundation partnership

Building will undergo $100 million redevelopment

Rendering of the redeveloped former Gimbels and Schuster’s Department Store building.
Rendering of the redeveloped former Gimbels and Schuster’s Department Store building.

Last updated on June 18th, 2019 at 10:51 am

The Medical College of Wisconsin and Greater Milwaukee Foundation have selected the former Gimbels-Schuster’s Department Store building on King Drive in Milwaukee’s Halyard Park neighborhood as the location of their new partnership, they announced Tuesday.

The 470,000-square-foot building at 2153 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will undergo a $100 million redevelopment project to serve as the new home of MCW’s community engagement programs and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s headquarters.

Milwaukee-based Royal Capital Group LLC has been selected as the developer of the project.

The building, which opened in 1907, was once home to Gimbels-Schuster’s Department Store. It underwent additions in 1914 and 1950, and the store closed in 1970. It currently serves as a warehouse.

The building is owned by Schusters Redevelopment LLC, which is led by Mike Coakley, president and chief executive officer of CH Coakley.

The MCW/GMF initiative will encompass about 150,000 square feet of the building. Both organizations will establish long-term leases at the space, Raymond said.

Coakley plans to maintain offices at the building. Kevin Newell, owner of Royal Capital, said the project will include “mixed uses,” but didn’t elaborate on what they will be.

Royal Capital Group is behind several noteworthy developments in the city, including a 90-unit apartment complex near Fiserv Forum and a 181-unit residential development in Milwaukee’s Brewers Hill neighborhood.

The Gimbels-Schuster’s redevelopment project will take up to 16 months to complete, Newell said. The historic building’s “natural facade” will be restored in the redevelopment process, the organizations said.

Dr. John Raymond, president and chief executive officer of MCW, said the 2016 uprising in Sherman Park prompted a process of “deep internal reflection” among MCW faculty and staff about how the institution could “better deliver value and create partnerships in the region.”

“Our support for this initiative is to help shape Milwaukee as one of the healthiest and safest cities in the nation,” Raymond said. “Health is largely determined by social factors, including social determinants, genes, behavior, and health care. In partnership, we will address determinants of health to benefit communities.”

In late 2018, MCW and GMF announced they would partner on the initiative, aimed at addressing social determinants of health in a neighborhood where health disparities are acute.

“We have to be intentional about our investments and make strategic investments in places where investment has been scarce and where disparities are unevenly distributed across our city,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

When the project is completed, GMF will relocate from its current headquarters in Schlitz Park to the King Drive location.

MCW departments and programs that are likely to move from the Wauwatosa campus to the new location include: Institute for Health & Equity, Center for Advancing Population Science, Center for AIDS Intervention Research, Division of General Internal Medicine, and service learning opportunities for medical students, Raymond said.

“We as an institution have recommitted to addressing overall health, not just health care,” Raymond said.

Throughout the planning process, leaders have referred to the project as the “Flourishing Lives” initiative, but that has been a placeholder for a more permanent name that reflects the partnership of MCW and GMF, leaders said. The permanent branding hasn’t been unveiled yet.

Both organizations’ leaders touted their historic ties to Halyard Park. The neighborhood is named after Ardie and Wilbur Halyard, who co-founded the first African-American owned bank in Milwaukee in 1924. A fund that supports African-American finance and banking students was created in their name at the GMF in 1974. The foundation has also invested more than $5 million in Halyard Park and the surrounding areas in the past five years, the organization said.

The Wisconsin College of Physicians and Surgeons, a predecessor organization of MCW, was formerly located a few blocks away from the Gimbels-Schuster’s site, from 1898 to 1932.

Raymond said at least 20 sites were considered for the new center, based on “heat maps” of health disparities in the city. Those areas included 53206 and 53205 on Milwaukee’s north side, 53233 near downtown, and portions of 53203, 53202 and 53212.

Newell worked with the organizations on the community engagement and site selection process.

Leaders stressed that the organizations will engage with the community over the next few months to ensure the initiative is done in partnership with residents.

A community meeting is tentatively scheduled for May 18.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.

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