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Study: Milwaukee-area public buildings face significant repair, replacement needs

Buildings owned by both the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County either need to undergo substantial repairs or be replaced altogether, although the situation is more dire for the county, according to a newly released study from Milwaukee-based research group Public Policy Forum.

The study found that the city’s repairs needs will be manageable in coming years, in part because of repair and renovation projects that are already underway. That includes work to shore up City Hall’s foundation, which will prevent the structure from sinking further into the ground.

Milwaukee County, on the other hand, was facing a set of circumstances that “currently appear unmanageable,” the report’s authors stated.

In the report, the Public Policy Forum suggests the county-owned Safety Building, Mental Health Complex and Medical Examiner’s office be replaced as soon as possible. But doing just one of these projects — the replacement of the Safety Building and construction of a new courthouse building to take its place — would cost around $220 million.

This project “could exhaust virtually all of the County’s borrowing capacity for several consecutive years,” says the report. But even if there was no need to replace the Safety Building, the county would still have to double its spending on building-related projects next year to $24 million, and nearly quadruple that spending to $45 million in 2019, the study found.

The new study is the third in a five-part series by the research group looking into government infrastructure in Milwaukee. The first installment, released September 2016, looked at the condition of local roads, bridges and buses. The second, released in May, was about public water, sewer and wastewater-treatment structures.

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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