Depending on which news sources you follow, Milwaukee is going through either a “renaissance” or a “reinvention.” Or maybe it’s a “reboot” or a “reimagining,” like that crappy Tim Burton version of Planet Of The Apes. However you want to define it, it’s safe to say that Milwaukee is currently building a lot of new shit.
• Think a pesky global pandemic can keep new shit from being built? Think again! Last week, the Wisconsin Center District (WCD) board approved a long-in-the-works plan to expand Milwaukee’s downtown convention center. The plan authorizes the use of $419.9 million (up from $300 million last summer), an increase in the county hotel tax (up from 2.5 to 3 percent), an extension of the existing food and beverage sales tax, and the refinancing of up to $150 million in debt to accomplish the feat. Huh!
What’s in store for the oft-renamed Wisconsin Center? How about an additional 112,000 square feet of exhibition hall space; a 30,000-square-foot, 2,000-capacity ballroom (at minimum); and 24 new meeting rooms? Assuming the world doesn’t end and the economy makes some sort of rebound, is it finally time to bring Gen Con back to Milwaukee?
Urban Milwaukee notes, however, that “the deal isn’t done, even with the authorization”…
Because of turbulence in the bond markets, the board’s Governance Committee will still need to vote to allow project consultants to sell the bonds at a future date. “These are certainly challenging times for everyone and that includes the bond market,” said project consultant John Mehan of Robert W. Baird & Co.
The bonds would be paid back with hotel, food and beverage and rental car taxes that the district already controls. But those taxes are expected to generate zero revenue over the next three months according to a financial analysis released earlier this week by the district staff.
Oh, and the City of Milwaukee is trying to figure out some sort of revenue sharing deal. Good luck, everyone! [Urban Milwaukee]
• Still think a pesky global pandemic can keep new shit from being built? Think again! Again! Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “This Milwaukee developer could have delayed two new projects. Instead, he’s proceeding despite the pandemic.” (Love those casual headlines!) Yes, developer Robert Joseph is going ahead with construction of a six-story, 60-unit apartment building in the Third Ward, and a warehouse conversion (into apartments, natch) in Walker’s Point. Says Joseph:
“I’m going ahead.”
Both of Joseph’s projects are exempt from Wisconsin’s “safer-at-home” order. So there you go! [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• STILL think a pesky global pandemic can keep new shit from being built? Well, yeah, maybe you’re right. There’s not much else going on right now. Stay at home, Milwaukee! Cue the 2003 Marilyn Manson song we always use at the end of these things!