Hispanic Chamber makes offers on buildings

Would-be headquarters bought out from under HCCW

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Wisconsin (HCCW), facing the end of a low-cost lease with Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), has made unsuccessful bids on two other Walker’s Point buildings.
HCCW ‘s plan to move from Milwaukee Enterprise Center (MEC) South, at 816 W. National Ave., came in the wake of a December vote by Milwaukee Area Technical College’s (MATC) board of directors to terminate a low-cost lease arrangement for office space. MEC South is one of two business incubators run by the college.
The chamber had been leasing its offices for $1 a month for the 10 years since MATC took over payments on the building the chamber had bought from the former Square D, Sorgel Electric manufacturing plant. MATC’s board voted down a proposal that would allow the chamber to expand the office space from 700 square feet to 1,950 square feet, with lease payments increasing to $10 a month. The Hispanic Chamber would have been responsible for building out its own space to the tune of $250,000, and would retain responsibilities for brokering space in the incubator.
Potential sites sold
According to HCCW President Maria Monreal Cameron, the chamber had made bids on two other properties in the organization’s near south side Walker’s Point neighborhood.
"They were both bought out from under us," Monreal-Cameron said. "We thought they were a deal. But the Walker’s Point area is a hot commodity nowadays."
HCCW had made an offer on the former headquarters of the Walker’s Point Development Corp. at 914 S. Fifth St. When that deal fell through, HCCW made an offer on 1014-1018 S. Fifth St. a deal which, according to Monreal-Cameron, fell through in mid-May.
Monreal-Cameron said Ken Sidelo, who made the successful offer on the former Walker’s Point Development Corp. building, offered to lease the building to them.
"We declined," Monreal Cameron said, expressing HCCW’s strong preference for building ownership. "I don’t ever want to be at anyone else’s mercy again."
MATC still in picture
According to both HCCW and MATC officials, negotiations on a continuation of HCCW’s lease at MEC South are still ongoing.
"MATC is still trying very hard to retain us here as tenants but they haven’t put anything attractive on the table," Monreal Cameron said. "They weren’t interested in selling it back to us."
According to MATC Board Chairman Lauren Baker, a committee has been formed to work with HCCW on the issue. While committee members may have floated trial balloons past HCCW’s board to gauge their interest in various purchase and lease arrangements, "MATC has not taken any position," Baker said. "We have not, in fact, brought the issue back to the policy level."

May 10, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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