By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 06, 2017 at 11:56 AM

Seems like just yesterday we squeezed under a tent to escape the rain and celebrate the groundbreaking on a new BMO Harris Bank branch in Sherman Park to replace the old one, which had been damaged in unrest the previous summer.

That’s because it practically was. Mayor Tom Barrett and Ald. Khalif Rainey joined officials from BMO Harris Bank and developer Compass Properties on May 19 to ceremonially break ground on a new "smart" bank branch in the Sherman Park neighborhood.

Now, the branch, at 3637 W. Fond du Lac Ave., is open, right across the street from its predecessor. At the earlier groundbreaking, that building was said to be slated to become a wellness incubator, spearheaded by The Juice Kitchen's JoAnne Johnson-Sabir and Fix Development's Juli Kaufmann.

(PHOTO: Bobby Tanzilo)

According to Johnson-Sabir, the project – called Sherman Phoenix – is moving forward.

"We are still raising funds and have reached a significant milestone of $2 million raised," she told OnMilwaukee today. "At this point, we have roughly 15 entrepreneurs slated to join us as tenants.

"We are now looking for neighbors who would like an ownership interest, as well as philanthropic support for our capital campaign. As we advance the development of the physical space, we will also be launching our entrepreneurship support program in collaboration with Launch MKE."

Earlier this month, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reported that Grateful Girls – which assists at-risk and formerly trafficked girls ages 12 to 24 – plans to open a retail clothing store called The Queens Closet in the Sherman Phoenix building.

"We have a long and proud history in Sherman Park, and today’s announcement builds on 58 years of community partnership," said Jud Snyder, senior executive, Milwaukee, BMO Harris Bank.

"In a year in which we mark our 200th year as a company, we are thrilled to plan for our future in Sherman Park with the opening of this state-of-the-art branch – located just steps away from our previous location."

The new 2,200-square foot bank branch is equipped with smart ATMs that don't require debit cards, a team of bankers, video conferencing with specialized bank professionals and free Wi-Fi for customers.

"We’re placing our best and newest technologies into this branch, delivering a cutting-edge
digital experience while at the same time offering personalized service by our team of bankers," added Sang Kim, regional president, retail banking, Wisconsin, BMO Harris Bank.

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.