Complex Renovations

Company brought in to revitalize aging apartments

If minor adjustments to the outside of a building are considered a face-lift, an apartment complex in an older section of Cudahy will soon be getting a major makeover.

City and company officials believe the renovation will greatly improve the aesthetics and appeal of the area.

Madison-based Gorman & Company Inc. will begin work in September to change a complex now know as Meadow View Apartments into a renewed and renamed Cudahy Commons.

The project is expected to cost more than $13 million and will involve changes to 16 buildings located on Edgerton and Pennsylvania avenues across the street from the Mitchell International Business Park.

The work will begin once the incoming Gorman & Company owns the property outright. The company is in the process of closing the deal, said Judy Sullivan, who will serve as (development) manager for Gorman & Company. The deal is expected to be finalized in mid- to late August.

According to the company’s schedule, the first noticeable change will be to alter the grading, said Tom Capp, executive vice president of the company.

“Right now, when it rains, all the water runs toward the buildings,” he said.

The grading will need to be redone so the water flows away from the foundations of each building. New sidewalks may also be added.

The grading problem stems from how the buildings in the complex were constructed, Capp said.

The complex was built in three phases, said City Engineer Craig Faucett. The first of the structures was built in 1961.

“They just did not have the technology at the time,” Capp said.

The core goal of the work will involve turning 96 three-bedroom apartments into two-bedroom apartments.

Complementary work includes adding new roofs and a completely new roof line to vary the look of the buildings into less of a barracks-style appearance.

Mayor sought project
The idea for the project was originally broached by the city of Cudahy. The work may not have happened if not for the interest of Mayor Raymond Glowacki, Capp said.

“We have been working very closely with Mayor Ray,” Capp said. “We work in partnership with communities. It is what we are known for.”

Glowacki first heard about Gorman & Company through a newspaper article describing a rehabilitation project called Golden Domes, located on 6ht Street and Lapham Avenue in Milwaukee. Gorman & Company has been working on the project – revamping and reducing the number of apartment units – for more than a year.

Glowacki contacted the company in November 2000 to discuss options for Meadow View.

“The mayor was concerned about the state of the buildings and of the grounds, including the lawn and the parking lots,” Faucett said. “The whole area was really run-down.”

Glowacki said he thought the prospect of the city and the company working together was good because the man from whom Gorman & Company bought golden Domes, Charles Perry, also has owned Meadow View since 1971.

Glowacki sees the Cudahy Commons project as good for the overall look and atmosphere of the city, in light of other redevelopment throughout the area.

“If you don’t continue to redevelop areas that need it, they tend to die out,” Glowacki said. “I think this is one of the biggest things ever to happen to the city. I’m glad to see it.”

Outside, inside upside-down
Buildings will not be demolished, but major overhauls will be done on the exterior and interior of each. The total number of units involved will be 142.

“The plans have all been submitted and approved by the city,” Sullivan said. “The city’s representatives and employees have been wonderful to work with.”

The company will obtain the building permit after the sale of the property is complete, she said.

As a part of the project, the side streets of Illinois and Vermont Avenues will be vacated, allowing space for a swimming pool to be added for the complex’s residents, as well as community courtyards with benches, lighting and grills. A community center/business center will also be built.

The work will be done in several phases, with the final completion expected in October 2003, Sullivan said.

Current tenants will not be able to stay in effected apartments during each project phase. They may return but will need to find alternate housing in the interim.

All returning and future tenants will undergo a multi-stage application process, qualifying through criminal and background checks. Typical rents are expected to be about $650. Leases would be for one year, instead of month-to-month as they are now. The current turnover rate for residents is about 60 percent per year, Sullivan said.

Besides the look, a change in the type and level of management attention for the complex is expected. Gorman & Company will have representatives on hand to run Cudahy Commons and make sure any needed maintenance is done.

“We run our own properties,” Capp said. “We’ve always done it this way. We’re not just redeveloping it and leaving.”

The company has proposed operating expenses of about $4,000 per unit. The cost spent by the current owner averages about $2,500 per unit.

Representatives will be available at the business center.

This is not the first time Gorman & Company has done work in Cudahy. The same company also did construction work several years ago on Buckhorn Station Apartment Homes, about 60 units located at 4560 S. Nicholson Ave.