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Milwaukee County transfers buildings to museum

Milwaukee County and the Milwaukee Art Museum have signed an agreement calling on the museum to buy several buildings that make up its lakefront campus, along with O-Donnell Park and the parking garage beneath it.

Also as part of the agreement, the museum will become responsible for tens of millions of dollars worth of maintenance, even as the county continues to own the land itself, according to a news release.

The sale of the buildings was prompted by a resolution that Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb introduced in early 2016. The resolution came following failed attempts to sell the park and parking garage to Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.

In a statement, Lipscomb said the agreement signed this week will save the county about $28 million in deferred maintenance and other costs, and will cut its annual subsidy to the museum in half after 2023.

“This is a good deal for taxpayers and promotes the use and enjoyment of Milwaukee County’s lakefront property for the benefit of the public,” he said.

The Milwaukee Art Museum will assume maintenance responsibilities for the Kahler building, including its recently built east addition; parts of the Saarinen Building that the museum occupies; and the O’Donnell Park garage and the 9-acre park above it. The museum will also become the leaseholder of the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and the Coast restaurant.

The Milwaukee County War Memorial will meanwhile assume responsibility for maintaining the parts of the Saarinen Building that it occupies.

About Alex Zank, alex.zank@dailyreporter.com

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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