From Home Base to Homes

Urban League offices may become housing

The Milwaukee Urban Leagues headquarters on the city’s north side would be converted into 80 or so apartments under a plan proposed by the league and Madison-based developer Gorman & Co.

The Urban League wants to move from the building, at 2800 W. Wright St., and is looking for more efficient space, said Ralph Hollmon, executive director. The group provides economic development help and other services to African-Americans.

The league would work with Gorman to redevelop the Wright St. building into apartments for moderate-income seniors, said Hollmon and Tom Capp, Gorman executive vice president. The project has a preliminary cost estimate of $10 million.

The development, if it materializes, would help bring additional life to the neighborhood, known as Metcalfe Park, Hollmon said. That area has long had problems with poverty and crime. The league is considering several potential sites for relocating its offices, Hollmon said, though he declined to disclose them.

Gorman would create the apartments both within the existing league building and a new building that would be constructed on the site, Capp said. Gorman hopes to begin construction next fall with completion by the summer of 2006.

Affordable housing
The developer is seeking affordable-housing tax credits through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. The credits are provided to developers who agree to lease apartments at below-market rents to people who qualify for the program. The credits typically are used as equity capital and help developers secure loans for their projects.

The proposed development is one of two Gorman projects in Milwaukee that will seek affordable-housing credits in 2005. Developers statewide compete for the credits and the authority usually makes its annual allocation by April.

The other Gorman project, which the Urban League is helping to market, is a proposal for 75 to 95 apartments on the west side of King Drive, just north of W. Vliet St. That development, which would include street-level retail space, would provide about one-fourth of its apartments to moderate-income renters, with the remaining units provided at market rents.

Both the King Drive and Wright St. developments received preliminary approval Monday from the city Plan Commission.

Other apartment projects
Gorman has developed several moderate-income apartment projects, including five in Milwaukee.

The firms Milwaukee projects include the current conversion of a large portion of Aurora Sinai Medical Centers’ former western campus, at W. Kilbourn Ave. and N. 22nd St., into 99 apartments.

Also, Gorman recently finished the conversion of the 14-story Majestic Building, 231 W. Wisconsin Ave., from offices into 135 apartments. Known as the Majestic Loft Apartments, the development, adjacent to the Shops of Grand Avenue, opens today.