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Milwaukee County Board moves to prevent future Park East-type land sales

In an effort to prevent further land sales like the $1 purchase of county land by the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee County Board officials recently passed a resolution that opposes such sales in the future, while also requesting various departments seek parkland rezoning of 43 sites.

The resolution was in protest to a state law allowing county executives to sell any county-owned property not zoned as parkland without a public process or legislative oversight.

County Executive Chris Abele oversaw the land sale of the county-owned Park East property, which lies just north of the proposed site for the new Bucks arena.

The sale of the 10 acres of land near downtown Milwaukee occurred in September. At the time, Abele announced the agreement between the county and Head of the Herd LLC, a developer affiliated with the Bucks.

County Board leaders assert Abele pushed state legislators to approve a provision in the state budget that granted him the authority to carry out the transaction without first consulting the board.

“It is incredible that there could be so many county parks and so much parkland that is unprotected due to state legislation requested by the County Executive,” said County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, who authored the resolution, in a statement. “We are now discovering the implications of (the provision), and it places many of our parks and parkland in jeopardy.”

Though the associated parcels have an assessed value of $8.8 million, Abele proposed selling them for $1 because of the likelihood that developers will spend as much as $10 million worth of cleanup work before developing the land.

The Park East development is expected to create about 2,700 construction jobs over the next nine years. The development will include a new NBA practice building, 160,000 square feet of office space, nearly 100,000 square feet of retail space, 395 apartments and a public plaza.

County Board members say 43 other parks are “at risk” of a similar type of land sale, including Estabrook Park, Red Arrow Park and Cathedral Square, to name a few. The resolution sought for the immediate rezoning of these sites.

About Alex Zank, [email protected]

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

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