By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 26, 2024 at 9:01 AM

Near West Side Partners and Wiegand Enterprises cut the ribbon on their new mixed-use development called Concordia 27, at 2724 W. Wells St., on the northwest corner of 27th and Wells Streets in the Concordia Neighborhood, Tuesday afternoon.


The $16 million project built with funding from the State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and others, was announced in May 2022.

It creates 33 affordable apartments for families and seniors above offices for the nonprofit 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.


There is also the Fruition MKE cafe and co-working space and six retail spaces aimed at small business owners and local artisans.

At the back, in a former garage, is a commercial, demonstration and incubator kitchen where MCFI will offer training for youth and adults with intellectual disabilities and those who have been incarcerated.

The buildings – one of which was built in 1925 and called the Cecilia Apartments, and the others, to the north, added as annexes in 1926 and ‘29 – have been owned by developer Rick Wiegand – who also owns the Ambassador Hotel – for nearly a decade and had been largely vacant.

The apartments on the upper floors are not yet completed.

The buildings were designed in the Mediterranean Revival style by architects Gustave Dick and Alex Bauer, who also designed the former Tower Theater across the street and the Oriental Theater on the East Side.

The new plan was drawn by Quorum Architects.

“What will make Concordia 27 a success for years to come is the collaboration inside the building, where we’ve brought together Near West Side tenants, partners, and neighbors to bring this vision to reality,” said Near West Side Partners’ Executive Director Lindsey St. Arnold Bell.

“This has been a building that has been underutilized and vacant for upwards of 15 years, and seeing this project come to life with these storefronts open and active brings a new life to the health and wellness corridor on 27th Street in the Near West Side.”

in progressX
in progressX

While the apartments are not yet completed, the cafe and co-working space is open.

(You can see some photos of the construction in progress in this 2023 progress report.)

“Fruition MKE’s mission is a culture of connection, community and growing in an area that needs this,” said Fruition co-founder Rachaad Howard.

Fruition MKE
(PHOTO: Fruition MKE)

“We're super excited because this community around Concordia 27 needs everything that we're offering. It needs the coworking space, it needs the maker space, it needs the cafe with healthy food options that will help create inspiration.”

Co-founder Tiffany Miller added, “Fruition MKE in Concordia 27 will be an invitation for people to connect and build community, create, and collaborate. And most importantly, we will be a space that is an invitation to joy. Resources and healthy food should exist in our neighborhoods in the Near West Side, I'm excited that Fruition MKE will be a part of that journey for 27th Street.”

The second-, third- and fourth-floor apartments are a mix of one- and two-bedroom units that will be available to individuals and families of those making about $15 per hour.

“I am so thrilled to see this project come to life,” said Wiegand. “As a Near West Side community, we’ve been working toward a shared vision since 2015, knowing that key investments in revitalization will make the Near West Side an even better place to live, work, play and stay.

“My team and I at Wiegand Enterprises look forward to finalizing the affordable housing component of Concordia 27 in the months ahead, and continuing to work alongside our neighbors and fellow businesses in the Near West Side into the future.”

Concordia 27 is one of a number of potentially catalytic projects in the neighborhood.

On Monday, the ribbon was cut on the nearby Davidson Park on 37th and Highland. Also nearby, volunteers are working hard to renovate and reopen the State Theater (aka The Palms), a new state office building, that could be a mixed-use facility, is expected to rise on 27th and Wisconsin, and Wiegand is working on the conversion of the former Wisconsin Avenue School into a hotel and transformation of a former medical building across from Concordia 27 into senior housing.

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.