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New project breathes life into old Schuster's Department Store

Posted at 10:59 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 23:59:06-04

The old Schuster's Department Store on Martin Luther King Dr. in Milwaukee will soon see new life.

The Medical College of Wisconsin and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation are partnering to re-develop the site into a community center and headquarters for the foundation.

The building currently houses the C.H. Coakley Company, a commercial moving business that has owned the building since 1993. They will retain corporate offices there but move their warehouse contents for the redevelopment.

CEO Mike Coakley says the change will be transformational for the area.

"The Medical College and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation are looking at this area to give it a shot in the arm," he said. "It's actually a game changer when they come to this area, it is going to change everything."

Local business owners are also looking forward to the increased traffic around the area. Gregory Johnson of On the Bayou restaurant says because of the lack of foot traffic, his banquet business is keeping him afloat and this could help his business thrive.

"That would raise our profits through the roof," said Johnson. "Now we have a lot of foot traffic. People going in and out [of] that building on a daily basis. Hundred's of people. Then we can advertise to them, we can probably can do some events over here for them. Some catering over there for them, so this whole area is going to come up."

The redevelopment of the six-story, 470,000 square foot building is expected to take about two years.

Schuster's & Gimbles Department store went out of business in the 1980's.