August 5, 2008

Possible UWM Dorm Sites Revealed


The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Real Estate Foundation on Monday released a list of eight proposed locations for the school's new dorm in Milwaukee's east side and Riverwest neighborhoods, with sites as far west as the Holton Terrace apartments and as far east as the old Prospect Mall.

Eight developers responded last month to the foundation's request for proposals issued in May. The foundation released the names of locations and developers after an open records request from the Journal Sentinel and requests from 3rd District Ald. Nik Kovac and residents. The groups will present details to the foundation this week, and officials estimate they will choose a winner in mid- to late August.

Kovac said he is urging the foundation to choose a slate of finalists, as opposed to one winner.

"I think it was a very positive first step that the UWM Real Estate Foundation took to be more transparent," he said. "I hope it's the first of such steps."

The nonprofit foundation expects to hire a developer to plan, design and build a dorm to house 500 to 700 freshmen and sophomores at UWM. The dorm is slated to open by August 2010. Details on the cost of developing each proposal were not disclosed.

The developers and locations include:

Boulder Venture: The old Prospect Mall at 2217-2239 N. Prospect Ave. and parking lot at 2214-2228 N. Prospect Ave. between Ivanhoe Place and Kenilworth Place. The building, bought by Boulder Venture in 2004, has about 42,000 square feet.

H D Development LLC: The northwest corner of E. Locust St. and N. Humboldt Blvd., where The Tracks Tavern & Grille is located.

Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee: Undeveloped portion of the housing authority's Holton Terrace at 2825 N. Holton St.

HSI Development Partners LLC: Just west of the intersection of N. Water St. and N. Humboldt Ave.

Inland Newport II LLC: 2628-60 N. Humboldt Blvd., east side of Humboldt south of E. Center St.

Mandel Group Inc.: Property that abuts Milwaukee River corridor, E. North Ave., N. Cambridge Ave. and Wisconsin Paperboard, 1514 E. Thomas Ave.

Phelan Development LLC and Towne Investments: 1744 N. Farwell Ave. (Southeast corner of N. Farwell Ave. and E. Royall Place).

Vetter Denk and Gilbane Development Co.: 1300 E. Locust St. (Heinemann's Commissary).

The new dorm is part of the university's effort to meet more student demand for campus housing. Some 90% of first-time freshmen want housing, but the university has beds for less than 60%. And the university has no plans to cap enrollment.

UWM officials are still interested in purchasing the Columbia Hospital site on Newport Ave. for student housing -- which could supply another 800 to 1,000 beds -- but that space is not supposed to be vacated until 2010, said UWM spokesman Tom Luljak.

Officials hope that the new dorm will alleviate some noise issues near the east side campus, where some residents have expressed frustration. Some 6,000 students live off-campus within a two-mile radius of the school.

The new RiverView Residence Hall took 300 students from off- campus apartments when it opened in January, and officials expect there will be a similar drop when the new dorm is built, Luljak said.

The university plans to further decentralize the school with satellite campuses in Wauwatosa and downtown. UWM plans to eventually have housing at both sites.

Stephen Weinstein, a homeowner in the Murray Hill neighborhood since 1985, said he'd like to see the new dorm built close to bars and shops -- particularly the old Prospect Mall site or the location on Farwell and Royall.

That might mean less noise from students walking from North Ave. bars to campus.

UWM junior Julio Guerrero, who lives off-campus, said he'd like to see a dorm built close to existing residence halls to increase the collegiate feel.

He particularly liked the Mandel site or the old Prospect Mall site.

"I think it's important to dispel this perception that UWM is a commuter campus," he said. "Part of doing that is having more on- campus housing."

Student Kyle Duerstein liked the same sites, along with the HSI site and the Inland property on Humboldt. Part of choosing the sites should be ease of integrating them into a transportation system from the residence hall to the campus, he said.

Less appealing to Duerstein were the Locust sites and Holton Terrace.

"A residence hall needs to be placed in a neighborhood where students feel safe enough to take a walk," Duerstein said. "None of the sites on Locust provide that sort of environment, in my opinion."

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