Redevelopment is underway on the grounds of the former Phillis Wheatley Elementary School on N. 20th Street in Milwaukee.
Royal Capital broke ground on the property located at 2442 N. 20th Street on Thursday. The $22 million redevelopment will include housing, amenities, and programming, Capital said.
Kevin Newell of Royal Capital Group was emotional as he greeted guests before breaking ground on the project.
"This wasn't supposed to happen, but everybody knows I'm an emotional guy," Newell said.
“We as a community are excited about this transformative project,” said Alderman Russell Stamper, II of Milwaukee’s Common Council. “The work to bring this development to the district was significant and will result in a much-needed benefit to the 15th district residents. The beautiful and affordable housing, the classes and mentoring, community café, and the public gathering places that will be provided through this project are all welcome developments for this area. Thank you and congratulations to Royal Capital on this special day.”
The school was closed in 2005 and named after Phillis Wheatley, one of the best-known poets in history.
"We wanted to carry it forward and be the connective tissue that bridges the historical nature of the development into what we can do moving forward," Newell said about the project. "The Wheatley" will be the name as the building moves forward.
“This development adds renewed energy to this neighborhood,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “The Phillis Wheatley redevelopment is part of our Strong Neighborhoods Plan to strengthen places like Lindsey Heights. The City of Milwaukee added financial support so that this project could move forward, and that’s an investment that will pay off for this area and the entire city.”
Residents are also excited about the space being put to use. Umike Prince said she tried enrolling her son in the school just says before it finally closed.
"It's long overdue," she said. "It's been 14 years since that building has been occupied. It also was our voting area."
According to Royal Capital, the project will provide 82 living units and provide educational, wellness, and entrepreneurial programming. The project is slated for completion in 2022.