While lending to manufacturers and retailers has been a vital catalyst for economic development in Milwaukee, the NWSCDC has also collaborated with community residents to revitalize the northwest side. One of our most successful efforts has centered on the preservation of a city library in the Old North Milwaukee neighborhood. When the original Villard Avenue Library – an aging building in disrepair – was slated to close in 2003, neighborhood residents and the NWSCDC protested loudly. The NWSCDC saw the library as an important anchor for the neighborhood, and as a high-traffic institution visited by approximately 90,000 people annually. The NWSCDC gained control of a piece of land near the aging library building with the vision that the site could eventually house the library within a new, mixed-use development. The new structure would include a smaller, more efficient and user-friendly public library, and would provide affordable housing for grandparents raising their school-age grandchildren.
The NWSCDC lobbied the city relentlessly for the project, and secured Gorman & Company as a development and construction partner. In working with Gorman, City officials, the Milwaukee Department of City Development, the Milwaukee Public Library, and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), the NWSCDC put together an $11 million investment that included a $1.155 million loan from NWSCDC to cover construction costs. Financing was also provided by Boston Capital (tax credit investor), Harris Bank and IFF (lenders), the Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP), and ARRA Section 1602 funds from WHEDA.
The resulting project — the Villard Square Grandfamily & Milwaukee Public Library Villard Branch — created over 150 construction jobs and at least three permanent jobs. Villard Square is improving the quality of life for the thousands of children and adults who use it every year. Additionally, the business climate for retailers in the Villard Avenue business district is improving due to an increased customer base.
Visit the Villard Square Branch site for more information.