A proposal to purchase a tax-foreclosed property on West North Avenue in Milwaukee and convert it into apartments, retail space and a training center for a non-profit organization has secured the endorsement of a Common Council committee.
Ezzard White, owner of EWS Electric & Industrial Trucking & Traffic Control LLC and founder of the non-profit group ONE Hope Made Strong, plans to buy the property at 2451-57 W. North Ave. On this property are two buildings connected with a common basement, totaling about 21,100 square feet.
White said he plans to renovate the building in two phases. As part of the first phase, he will convert the two-story building at the southern end of the property into OHMS' permanent training facility. This will take between six and 12 months to finish, he said.
OHMS was established in 2008 and teaches students skills in fields such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, carpentry and welding. The 12-week program has students meet three times a week.
"I know there's a dire need for skilled trades in the city of Milwaukee," White said.
The second phase includes the renovation of the three-story building on the north side of the property. The building will have eight two-bedroom apartments and possibly three retail spaces on the first floor, with one space being larger than the other two. The anticipated completion of this phase is fall 2020.
White said he has as many as 18 retailers interested in potentially renting that space.
If the sale is approved, White would buy the property for $5,000. The estimated budget for the renovation work is $367,750 plus a "considerable amount of sweat equity," according to a city report.
The proposal was approved unanimously by members of the city's Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee on Tuesday morning.
Alderman Russell Stamper, whose district includes the North Avenue property, praised the project and White's group for helping residents find jobs in the skilled trades.
"Mr. White has been an advocate for people who live in the neighborhood, and giving them opportunity to get skills in the trades and getting to be immediately employed on jobs, particularly in the 15th district," Stamper said during the committee hearing. "So, he's been a great asset in the district, especially as we're developing economically, and I'm so happy that he finally gets to own his own training facility."