Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:21 pm
From the moment Joanna Brooks took her first yoga class in middle school, she was hooked. As she grew up, Brooks experimented with running and dance, but always returned to yoga.
In 2015, Brooks decided she wanted to help others, particular people of color, by offering yoga classes that were accessible, affordable and culturally relevant.
For the last three years, she has rented space at the Walnut Way Conservation Corp., 2240 N. 17th St., where her studio, Embody YOGA, has served more than 300 students.
On Nov. 30, Brooks will join 28 other entrepreneurs opening their businesses at the Sherman Phoenix, a health, wellness, food and culture hub in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood.
“I could not be more excited to be here,” Brooks said Tuesday during a tour of the 20,000-square-foot building.
Juli Kaufmann, president of Fix Development, and The Juice Kitchen owner JoAnne Johnson-Sabir are the co-developers for the $4 million Sherman Phoenix project. Sabir will also be the anchor tenant with Shindig Café.
Funding has come from more than 50 investors, who included angel and crowd investors as well as philanthropists and a $250,000 Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The City of Milwaukee is also providing $215,000 in tax increment financing.
The Sherman Phoenix is being developed in a former BMO Harris Bank branch at 3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave. that was damaged by fire during civil unrest in the Sherman Park neighborhood in 2016. The original project budget was $3.5 million, however it has been expanding because of the demand for the building, Kaufmann said.
“There are more entrepreneurs than quality spaces in Sherman Park,” Kaufmann said. “So we’ve continued to adapt.”
The project still has about $200,000 left to raise.
Once it opens Nov. 30, it will be a cross between a public market and an indoor mall with a mix of food, wellness beauty and retail tenants.
The lineup includes 2 Kings Barber Company, Buffalo Boss, Funky Fresh Spring Rolls, Gener8tor/Fellowship Art and Purple Door Ice Cream.
“In some ways, this is a new manifestation of a mall,” Kaufmann said.