By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 11, 2022 at 9:00 AM

With $5 million in support from the State of Wisconsin, Near West Side Partners will convert a vacant four-story building on the northwest corner of 27th and Wells Streets into a $16 million community center.

An aerial rendering of the floor plan.

Concordia 27, 2724 W. Wells St., will include 30 affordable housing units for seniors and families; community gathering space; commercial spaces for nonprofits; a commercial, demonstration and incubator kitchen; and daily affordable meals for more than 1,000 residents; and school meals for more than 15,000 low-income students at 106 schools in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine and Kenosha to combat food insecurity

The commercial space will be occupied by Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI), Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee (SWIM) and Near West Side Partners (NWSP) to provide minority entrepreneurial support, housing resources and nutrition and wellness services.

Reception area.
A rendering of an office space.

MCFI will also operate the kitchen and offer training for youth and adults with intellectual disabilities and those who have been incarcerated.

The building is a block away from MCTS’s Bus Rapid Transit line, which is currently under construction along Wisconsin Avenue.

The State’s investment comes from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and Near West Side Partners has leveraged an additional $5 million in private investment.

Kitchen rendering.
Cafe rendering.

The project, which will create full-time job opportunities in the neighborhood, was sparked and led by local residents and will be managed by NWSP, along with Wiegand Enterprises and Quorum Architects.

“We are actively seeking support from others in our community to amplify the State's investment and maximize the impact of Concordia 27 and its community-driven offerings for the long haul,” said Keith Stanley, executive director of Near West Side Partners.

Conference room rendering.

Gov. Tony Evers and local leaders announced the plan Wednesday morning at the Mediterranean Revival-style building, erected in 1925 (with additions in 1931 and '35) to plans drawn by architects Dick and Bauer.

“Whether it’s financial security, affordable childcare, healthcare and housing, or access to reliable transportation, so many factors play a critical role in the success of our kids, our families, and our state, and that’s why a space like Concordia 27 is such an important asset,” said Evers.

“A resident-driven project born from community priorities and the 2021 Appreciative Inquiry Summit supported by the Harley-Davidson Foundation, Concordia 27 will help address six inequities in the community – housing insecurity, health disparities, trauma, food insecurity, unemployment and transportation access – and bring service providers and resources together under one roof.”

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.