Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Bria Grant's nonprofit group, UniteMKE Inc., trains and coordinates community health workers — but she wanted to do more to improve the health of people living in Milwaukee's central city.
"If I come into a community where there's blight and trash everywhere, I'm really coming into an area of trauma," Grant said.
So, Grant is becoming a developer. Her first project is to renovate a vacant building into a mix of two apartments, a restaurant and new offices for UniteMKE, where Grant is executive director.
In the world of commercial development, this has a modest budget of around $500,000. But it would be in a neighborhood that badly needs new investment.
"Across the city, we need projects like this to happen," Grant said.
UniteMKE would get an exclusive right to negotiate a purchase of the city-owned building, 2501-2503 W. North Ave., and an adjacent vacant lot under a proposal recommended for approval by the Common Council's Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee.
The full council is to review that proposal at its Tuesday meeting.
With council approval, UniteMKE would pursue project financing, including possible loans from Town Bank and two nonprofits: Northwest Side Community Development Corp. and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Grant said.
The development is lining up other financing sources, including funds from St. Ann Center For Intergenerational Care. St. Ann operates its Bucyrus campus just across North Avenue from the project site, which also is just four blocks west of the planned Ikon Hotel.