By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 27, 2020 at 10:01 AM

Oregon, Wisconsin-based Gorman & Co., which has renovated former MPS school buildings into apartments – including the former 5th Street School and Jackie Robinson Middle School – now plans a similar development at the former Edison Middle School at 5372 N. 37th St.

And in further good news, Gorman’s Ted Matkom says that a plan to convert the unique former McKinley School, 2001 W. Vliet St., which had seemed all but dead thanks to a financing bid hiccup and an ever-worsening building condition, is now back on track.

In April 2019, an application for WHEDA tax credits was put on hold and Matkom said the McKinley plan to create 36 affordable housing units for veterans and their families was "very questionable."

But now, he tells me, "we got credits and (are) closing year-end."

The McKinley School, which is an amalgam of numerous building additions – the survival of which was in doubt after a 2013 fire – is unique among MPS buildings in style and architect; it is the only one known to have been designed by Fred Seyring.

MPS closed the school in the late 1970s and, soon after, sold the building to V.E. Carter, who ran a day care in the building until 2013, when it closed after the fire.

It received historic designation from the city in 2014.

I got a chance to see inside in 2017 after having called the schoolhouse a "Place That Matters."

In advance of the closing of the building sale, some work is currently taking place.

"The City is currently working closely with Gorman on removing the hazards in the building including asbestos, mercury switches, etc.," says the Department of City Development’s David Misky.

"There is a possible TID for the affordable housing piece of the development which may be introduced in September. Our collective hope is they acquire the building by the end of this calendar year."

The Environmental Protection Agency undertook some remediation work, too, in 2016-17.

Meanwhile, up at Edison, Gorman plans a $20 million project to convert the 1924 building designed by architects Van Ryn & DeGelleke as the North Milwaukee High School 64 affordable apartments with another 11 affordable townhouse units on the site.

Gorman will seek federal affordable housing tax credits to help finance the project at the former school, which closed in 2007.

When Milwaukee annexed neighboring North Milwaukee in 1929, the school was rechristened Custer High. When Custer got a new building on Sherman Boulevard, the old building was transformed into Edison Junior High (and later Middle) School.

You can see inside and read about the history of the building here.

Misky says that the sale of the building is expected to arrive at the Common Council for approval in September.

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 OnMilwaukee.com 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.