New development for Sherman Park

Posted at 10:51 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 23:51:17-04

More healing in the Sherman Park neighborhood. It's been almost a year since buildings were looted and set on fire following a police shooting there. Now, a phoenix is rising from those ashes.

The Sherman Phoenix project will transform the fire-damaged BMO Harris Bank at Fond du Lac and 36th Street, into a hub for local entrepreneurs, and community togetherness.

"We're excited to see community members own businesses and hire neighbors, and bring this incredible life and energy into a building that right now is kind of a sad place," says Juli Kaufmann.

Kaufmann and JoAnne Johnson-Sabir are spearheading the project.

"It  wasn't an option for us to let this go," Johnson-Sabir says. "This building to sit here burned and blighted. It was imperative that we take a stand here. This revitalization is possible, and critical."

The building will be home to at least 12 black-owned businesses, creating more than 45 jobs. There will be a variety of shops and services, and an outdoor patio and gathering space for music and community events.

Local entrepreneur, Taj Pearsall, is bringing a restaurant called "The Buffalo Boss" to the project.

"It's an opportunity to become more invested in the community, and to give back," Pearsall says. "It also provides us with access to a support network that will help us prosper as business owners."

A support network made of investors like Alex Lasry, the Senior Vice President of the Milwaukee Bucks, who believes in the potential and power of the Sherman Park neighborhood.

"I think this really could be one of the next big development pieces of Milwaukee," he says.

Currently, half of the project cost has been secured by local investors and foundations. But developers are looking for more, in order to have enough money to start renovations this fall.

The project is also designed to give neighborhood residents and community members the opportunity to invest in the project and become owners. There will be input and idea sessions.

The City of Milwaukee has pledged support, by creating a new tax incremental district, that will provide about $225,000. In addition, the city will provide another $100,000 in grants and loans for improvements to the building.