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Work ramping up on second half of Westlawn

Construction is ramping up on the second half of the Westlawn neighborhood in Milwaukee.

Local officials are inching closer to approving various agreements between the city and the agency overseeing the project.

Westlawn is a mixed-income neighborhood being built by the Milwaukee Housing Authority on the city’s northwest side, south of Silver Spring Drive between North 60th and North 68th streets. Plans call for the construction of apartments, townhouses and single-family homes in addition to new retail space.

The part of the project east of North 64th Street is already finished, and provides 250 units to residents. The housing authority now has its sights set to the west, and has plans for the construction of nearly 200 more apartment units to begin between October and spring of next year. Additionally, more than 500 new homes are planned to be built over the next five years.

The development requires action by the city’s Common Council. Aldermen, for instance, still need to authorize the Department of Public Works to enter into agreements related to storm-water management plans, and sign off on a number of easements that allow construction to take place at the site.

Meeting on Wednesday, members of the Public Works Committee backed a move that would allow the city to sign onto these agreements.

Gregg Hagopian, Milwaukee assistant city attorney, said the stormwater plans call for one system to manage both the completed eastern half of Westlawn and the western half that is not yet finished. The stormwater system will be maintained through fees collected from property owners at Westlawn.

Alderman Cavalier Johnson, whose district includes the Westlawn neighborhood, gave the agreements his blessing on Wednesday.

“I’m good with (the agreements), and I’m ready for it to go,” Johnson told the Public Works Committee.

Officials will also need to approve the final plat that dedicates land for public rights-of-way and outlines blocks of developable land. That item received the blessing from the City Plan Commission on Monday, and is expected to be taken up by the council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee in November, said Karen Dettmer, Milwaukee public works coordination manager.

All this construction also means job opportunities for residents.

The housing authority held a job-information fair at the beginning of October. People looking for work in construction were able to register for a list used by contractors when they are seeking new employees.

The construction of Victory Manor, which will provide 60 new apartments that give preference to veterans, as well as 30 new townhouses, will take place between this fall and December of next year.

The first phase of the project got started several years ago after the housing authority have received low-income housing tax credits. The second phase, meanwhile, is receiving money as part of a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2015.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of units that have been built and will be built as part of the Westlawn project. The eastern half of the project will have 250 units for residents. Five-hundred new homes are planned to be built over the next five years.

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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