A $1.1 million redevelopment project aimed at transforming a long-blighted commercial stretch near Milwaukee's Harambee neighborhood into a retail shopping center is underway.
[caption id="attachment_137794" align="alignright" width="432"] A rendering of the new building being constructed at 3334 N. Holton St.[/caption]
The project, dubbed the Riverworks City Center, will be overseen by the Riverworks Development Corporation and its partner agency the Riverworks Business Improvement District. Construction is being funded through $1.1 million loan from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a nonprofit community development organization.
Project plans include renovating an existing 12,400-square-foot building at 528 E. Concordia Ave., which currently houses a Family Dollar store, and constructing a 14,600-square-foot building at 3334 N. Holton Street.
Family Dollar will move into roughly 10,100 square feet of space in the new building. It's previous location will be renovated to house an expansion of the Riverworks Development Corporation's Financial Opportunity Center, a start-up incubator called the Riverworks Affordable Worker Space, and a social enterprise called Riverworks Cleans.
The remaining 4,500 square feet of retail space in the new building at 3334 N. Holton Street will be leased to Spotlight Barbershop, an existing shop in the Harambee neighborhood that is expanding into the new location. LISC Spokesperson Dawn Hutchison-Weiss said it is possible other retail tenants could also be added as the project moves forward.
An adjacent green space will also be redeveloped to accommodate food trucks and other outdoor vendors. Project leaders hope the site, located along the Beerline Trail, will become a community gathering spot.
“The new Riverworks City Center ties together a lot of different revitalization strategies, including commercial development, job training and creation, recreation, and access to healthy foods," said Darryl Johnson, executive director of Riverworks Development Corporation and the Riverworks Business Improvement District. "I expect this project will have a significant economic impact on the area"
At LISC's Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation on March 16, the organization's national CEO Michael Rubinger announced the group would invest $25 million in Milwaukee neighborhoods over the next five years.
Hutchison-Weiss said the Riverworks City Center is one of the LISC investment projects that Rubinger hinted at.
“This is a great example of the kind of impact we can have when, year after year, we tackle multiple community challenges as part of a concentrated effort,” Johnson said. "Real change, real growth, takes a great deal of collaboration, capital and innovation — and it needs time to take root. Partnerships like RDC and LISC are bringing new opportunities to Harambee. We’re excited to help drive that.”
Construction began in March and is expected to be completed by September.