Monsanto Plaza development to fill vacant King Drive lot

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:46 pm

The Milwaukee development company Urbane Concepts LLC and Shekinah Printing & Design Inc. are partnering to develop a new 12,000-square-foot, two-story mixed use building on a vacant lot at 2540-2556 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The $2.1 million project, which will be named Monsanto Plaza, will have retail space on its first floor and apartments above, said Chris Johnson, project manager with Urbane Concepts.

Shekinah Printing & Design, which is currently located at 2317 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, will move into about 1,800 square feet of the retail space. A restaurant franchise is expected to use another 3,000 square feet of the first floor, leaving about 1,000 square feet for another use.

The first floor of Monsanto Plaza will feature three commercial condominiums, Johnson said. Creating the project as business condos will allow smaller businesses to own their spaces, rather than leasing them, Johnson said.

“Our focus is the fact that Luc (Monsanto, owner of Shekinah Printing & Design), he’s one of the many small businesses that would like to participate in the equity growth in this area,” Johnson said. “However, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for small businesses that need small offices. There are not a lot of small buildings (on King Drive). For a growing business that has a track record, there is an opportunity to participate in the equity in the growth of the street.”

The building will also include a statue of a prominent female civil rights leader, Monsanto and Johnson said. The pair want to solicit the input of other businesses on King Drive and the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District to determine which civil rights leader to honor, Johnson said.

Many of Monsanto’s customers are in the area near his business, and he wanted to stay in the area for the long term. Partnering with Urbane in the development allows Shekinah to stay in the neighborhood and expand, he said.

“The area itself is one we’ve got a lot of interest in, and a lot of our support comes from this area,” Monsanto said. “We want to keep that going.”

Shekinah also needs to move to larger quarters. The company now leases about 800 square feet of space, and needs additional room to accommodate its planned offerings of CD and DVD duplication. Shekinah is now able to develop signs for customers, as well as Web site development.

Shekinah’s Web site development is offered through a consultant. Once the company moves, that service will be brought in-house, Monsanto said.

When the company moved into its current space in 2003, its sales doubled. During 2006, its sales grew 15 to 20 percent, and should grow by about 10 percent this year, Monsanto said.

Shekinah has two employees now. By the time it moves, Monsanto anticipates hiring three additional workers.

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