Com­mis­sion OKs con­vert­ing 2 schools to apart­ments

De­vel­op­ments likely to cre­ate 100 units; coun­cil needs to ap­prove zon­ing

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - BUSINESS - Tom Daykin Tom Daykin can be emailed at, and fol­lowed on Twit­ter and Face­book.

The pro­posed con­ver­sion of two his­toric Milwaukee schools into apart­ments for se­niors and fam­i­lies has re­ceived Plan Com­mis­sion zon­ing ap­proval.

The two de­vel­op­ments, at the for­mer Phillis Wheat­ley El­e­men­tary School, 2442 N. 20th St., and the for­mer 37th Street El­e­men­tary School, 1715 N. 37th St., to­gether would likely cre­ate around 100 apart­ments on the city’s north side.

Both de­vel­op­ments will need Com­mon Coun­cil zon­ing ap­proval.

Also, the sale of the Phillis Wheat­ley build­ing will need coun­cil ap­proval.

The coun­cil, at its Nov. 7 meet­ing, ap­proved the sale of the 37th Street build­ing for $210,000 to Chicago-based Heart­land Hous­ing.

Heart­land plans to cre­ate around 50 se­nior apart­ments in the school build­ing and around 10 town­houses for fam­i­lies that would be built be­hind the school.

Heart­land’s plans in­clude cre­at­ing com­mu­nity space in the for­mer gym­na­sium, as well as a com­mu­nity gar­den. Its de­vel­op­ment part­ner is Com­mu­nity First, a neigh­bor­hood im­prove­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The school’s his­toric fea­tures would be re­stored with cash from state and fed­eral his­toric preser­va­tion tax cred­its. Heart­land also is seek­ing af­ford­able hous­ing tax cred­its, which are pro­vided through an an­nual com­pe­ti­tion.

If Heart­land ob­tains the cred­its next spring, it would likely com­plete its pur­chase of the school by the end of 2018 and be­gin ren­o­va­tions shortly af­ter­ward, said Matt Me­len­des, Heart­land’s as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of real es­tate de­vel­op­ment.

The Phillis Wheat­ley build­ing has re­ceived four sep­a­rate pur­chase of­fers from af­ford­able apart­ment de­vel­op­ers, said Rhonda Sza­l­lai, of the Depart­ment of City De­vel­op­ment.

Depart­ment of­fi­cials hope to rec­om­mend a pro­posal this week for the Com­mon Coun­cil to re­view, she said.

Sza­l­lai didn’t pro­vide any de­tails on those pro­pos­als. But three other for­mer Milwaukee schools that have been ren­o­vated into apart­ments have 30 to 68 units.

Both projects, as well as a sep­a­rate ho­tel de­vel­op­ment plan, are pro­ceed­ing af­ter the July ex­pi­ra­tion of a state law re­quir­ing va­cant Milwaukee Pub­lic Schools build­ings be sold only to “ed­u­ca­tional op­er­a­tors” — mainly Milwaukee Parental Choice voucher schools.


The for­mer 37th Street El­e­men­tary School is one of two for­mer schools on Milwaukee's north side that are be­ing pro­posed for con­ver­sion to apart­ments.

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