Art Museum could take over O'Donnell Park

Posted at 7:42 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 12:53:59-05

Milwaukee County announced a new plan for O'Donnell Park Tuesday.

You may remember the property as the site of a deadly accident in 2010, in which a 15-year-old was killed after a concrete panel fell off the building. In 2014 the County rejected an offer from Northwestern Mutual to purchase the property.

Now, County Executive Chris Abele said this deal is as least as good as the 2014 offer.

In a press conference, members of the Milwaukee Art Museum and County said this deal will allow the public to maintain access to the property, without using their tax dollars to pay for it.

Under the terms of the proposal, the Museum will assume $28.8 million in liabilities in a non-cash transaction in which the Museum will take ownership of the O’Donnell Property. The deal, according to the Museum, also includes a transfer in ownership of the Kahler Building (inclusive of the new East Addition) and the space within the Saarinen Building, currently occupied by the Museum, to the Museum.

The Milwaukee Art Museum will assume full responsibility for the county’s current 84-year obligation for capital maintenance and repair for those facilities, valued in today’s dollars at $28.8 million of county-taxpayer obligations.

“We think this proposal is good for county taxpayers and good for the community,” said Dan Keegan, Milwaukee Art Museum Director. “The proposal relieves county taxpayers of a long-term commitment, provides permanence and stability for the Museum, and ensures that future generations will have public access to the lakefront for years to come.”

In addition, the Museum will assume the cost burden for structural repairs and maintenance needed to maintain the O’Donnell Property. The Museum has plans to transform the garage into a state-of-the-art parking facility after making all deferred repairs, including replacing a rubber membrane on the roof of the parking garage and plaza that has been leaking.

Costs of other deferred maintenance are estimated at an additional $5.4 million. The Museum will also install the latest automated prepay booths and provide electronic signs, more lights and 24-hour security.

The county board will vote on the proposal on March 17.