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Bay View Bash Schedule, pg. 14

Skateboarding, page 15

Volume 3 • Issue 9

September 2006

A neighborhood in transition By Michael Timm

F

or almost a year, an impressive steel and glass edifice has stood above the southwest corner of Kinnickinnic Avenue and Becher Street, an architectural cornerstone to the Bay View community and crowning the neighborhood resurgence sometimes termed the Bay View renaissance. As a structure, it can’t be ignored. It’s also hard to ignore that for most of its life, the building has looked vacant. Originally called the Bay View Commons, it was dubbed Urban View Condos this spring by a marketing firm brought in to increase appeal among potential condo owners and to sell Bay View to suburban markets ignorant of Milwaukee’s south shore. The development has had a lengthy history. The vision for the property’s development changed at least three times, with different proposals featuring more or less retail and different kinds of housing for different kinds of people. The success of the final configuration, a 21-unit condominium with 20,000 square feet of first-floor retail space, will ultimately be determined by the market. What the outcome will be is far from clear. In that way and others, the development’s story is intimately linked to the Bay View renaissance, and the unknown answer to whether the investment of economic, emotional, and cultural capital for which Bay View is establishing a reputation will pay for itself over the long term.

Bay View resident Claudia Looze directed the upcoming film and Bay View resident John Gurda wrote the screenplay. Rep actor James Pickering narrates.

up. Some of [that is] so much competition in the marketplace.” He pointed to condo developments along Commerce Street and in the Third Ward as attracting discriminating condo consumers. Cost may be another factor. “Our product’s a little more on the high end of the Bay View marketplace,” Scoville said. In January 2006, Scoville told the Compass units range from $155,000 to $298,000. In late August he said these prices had not changed and that there was no plan to change the prices or to alter the target market. “We’re really targeting either singles or couples that are in the $100,000 income range and probably 25 to 35 years old, or empty nester/retirees.” Scoville acknowledged that price per unit may be deterring some buyers. New condos in the Milwaukee market are being built around 850 to 1,100 square feet, Scoville said, but Urban View units measure in at 1,200 square feet for one-story and 1,400 square feet for two-story units. Scoville said that while the price per square foot at Urban View is less expensive than competing units on the market, the price per unit may be more expensive.

BV resident directed MPTV film By Willy Thorn “You know how they say, ‘those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it?’ Well, people need to know our [Milwaukee] history so we can repeat it,” said Claudia Looze, Bay View resident and producer/director of The Making of Milwaukee, a three-part documentary film that will air on MPTV Channel 10 Oct. 9, 10, and 11 at 7pm each night. But bringing history to life is easier said than done.

He predicted that as condo developments push into the Fifth Ward and as higher-priced condos closer to downtown become saturated, more people will buy into Urban View.

Looze said, “....and John Gurda [Milwaukee’s resident historian exemplar] knows them all. He can’t be stumped. With John, history becomes entertaining. It’s alive. It’s not dates and places, but stories. Wonderful stories.” The Making of Milwaukee, John Gurda’s 458-page book, was published in 1999 by the Milwaukee County Historical Society, but it took a meeting of minds and several years to bring Gurda’s passion for history and depth of research to the screen. Five years ago, Bill Werner, a friend of Gurda’s, introduced him to Looze. The trio brainstormed Milwaukee as a serial documentary. Gurda wrote the script, Looze directed, and Werner became executive director. The project took three years to produce and is in post-production now, as the finishing touches are put on scene and shot transitions.

What Urban View is selling is proximity, he said, and so the other component to

“In May 2003 we began shooting and editing; shooting and editing, back and forth, kind of in tandem,” she said. “We wrapped it up August 24th [of 2006].” Looze has experience as a director, having helmed the Golden Eagle Award-winning Partner to Genius (a PBS documentary on Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, Wisconsin architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s lesser-known wife) to screen in 1997.

But Milwaukee’s history is especially vibrant, Looze said.

She’s also directed Milwaukee Between the Wars, numerous Outdoor Wisconsin episodes, other documentaries about Frank Lloyd Wright and Milwaukee during WWII. More recently she helped with Danceworks’ “Wide Sky” project and teamed up with her husband to produce a 15-minute comedy, Look for the Union Label, in which Santa’s elves go on strike.

“There are such treasures in this city. Great treasures. Really incredible stories,”

“We even had a show, Arts’ Place, which was a magazine-style cultural show,” she said.

Registration of death for Michael Ruchalski, 37-yearold victim of the Bay View Massacre in 1886.

A cyclist passes beneath the railroad trusses by the Track Terrace condo development.

Residential Sales Sluggish Big Bend Development of Big Bend, Wis. purchased the property at 2121 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and invested in the mixed-use project completely on a speculation basis. Unlike larger condo developments where a certain number of pre-sold units is a prerequisite to satisfy investors before loans can fund construction, the developer shouldered all the risk without any pre-sold units. “It’s not all that uncommon for a project of this size to be done speculatively,” said Big Bend agent Randy Scoville. Four of the 21 condo units have been sold to date, he said. The units sold are one-story; all 13 of the two-story units are still available. Scoville said this response has been less than expected, but the causes are not unexplained. “The residential has been slower than anticipated,” Scoville said. “Some of that is strictly market economy, interest rates going

~photo Michael Timm

attracting buyers is securing retail tenants below. “As we get the street front activated and lively, we think that will help the residential component.” Retail Looking Up Things are moving slowly but surely on the retail front, Scoville said. Wisconsin Health & Fitness Center is poised to lease 10,000 square feet of the Becher Street retail space, and two other potential tenants are very close to signing leases on the KK side. Scoville said those three leases would fill 75 percent of the vacant first floor space. Scoville named a dry cleaning business and a florist as two businesses that have expressed interest in retail space in the past, but was not able to name the specific tenants he said were engaged in lease discussions at press time. He attributes the lag in filling the first floor primarily to the bad timing of the building’s comSEE PAGE 2

“When I was in school, history was awful. Dates and battles...boring,” she said. “And then you regurgitate it all on an exam and forget it for good.”

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INSIDE Pg 2 Pg 3 Pg 4 Pg 5 Pg 6 Pg 7 Pg 8 Pg 9 Pg 10 Pg 11 Pg 12 Pg 13 Pg 13 Pg 14

‘Lost’ In Bay View Polar Bears Are Drowning Bay Viewer Consolidated Tribute to 9/11 A History of Bay View Beer Bridgeport Park Preserved Riviera Maya Into Old Q’s WI Health & Fitness Center Biodiesel As Alternative Your Pets & Bird Flu Mod Lofts Meeting Sept. 18 Riley Withdraws, Charged Concern for Seminary Woods Calendar

Bay View Compass PO Box 100 Milwaukee WI 53201-0100

September 2006  

September 2006 Issue

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