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Milwaukee County pushes ahead with Park East land sale

A Milwaukee County panel decided not to adjust plans to sell a Park East parcel to MRH West LLC, Milwaukee, despite the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s preference that a request for proposals be issued for the site.

In September, county supervisors directed Brian Taffora, the county’s head of economic development, to negotiate with MRH West after it made a proposal to build The Element, a 110-room hotel, in Park East. MRH West is affiliated with Milwaukee River Hotel LLC, Milwaukee, which developed the Aloft Hotel across Old World Third Street from the proposed Element site.

WisDOT and the Federal Highway Administration both receive portions of Park East land sale proceeds since state and federal money was used to buy the land in order to build a freeway; however, the county has authority to attract and select developers.

Taffora said he was contacted by WisDOT in November because an RFP wasn’t issued before MRH West’s proposal.

The county generally issues RFPs for Park East parcels but isn’t required to. The most recent RFP for the parcel was issued in 2008 but did not result in a sale. Since then, the county has sought an updated appraisal of the site to ensure it receives a fair market value price, Craig Dillmann, the county’s real estate manager, said at Monday’s meeting of the Economic and Community Development Committee.

Taffora said negotiations are ongoing, and the county is waiting for MRH West to come back to the table with an offer.

— Beth Kevit

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