By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 04, 2018 at 10:04 AM

A year and a half after news emerged that the Milwaukee Ballet would build a new dance center on Italian Community Center-owned land in the Third Ward, the arts group is breaking ground on the project.

HGA Architects has designed the Milwaukee Ballet Center for Dance, which will be the group’s new home, with space for its classes, rehearsals and production.

The groundbreaking is set for Tuesday, June 5 at 3 p.m. at the site, 132 N. Jackson St. It will be attended by Ballet Artistic Director Michael Pink, Executive Director Julia Glawe and Chair & President Justin Mortara, along with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, and philanthropists Donna and Donald Baumgartner, who will, according to a Ballet statement, make "a special announcement" at the event.

HGA principal Jim Shields will also be on hand.

According to the Ballet’s press release, the 52,000-square foot building is "designed to be an enduring home for the Ballet that truly reflects the company’s significance and impact on the community."

The project was green-lighted by the Historic Third Ward’s architectural review board last summer, and, in October, got a boost in the form of a $250,000 grant from the United Performing Arts Fund.

The Ballet is currently headquartered at 504 W. National Ave. in Walker’s Point, where its dance academy also holds its classes. Its major performances are held at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

The land upon which it will be built is the former coachyards site that has, for many years, served as parking for the Italian Community Center. Members of the center voted in December 2016 to sell the site for $2.4 million.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.