By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 02, 2023 at 3:01 PM

On Monday, Milwaukee County officials broke ground on a new Marcia P. Coggs Health and Human Services Center, 1230 W. Cherry St., just north of the existing center.

The new building – designed by Engberg Anderson Architects – will have 60,000 square feet on four stories. It is expected to be completed in early 2025.


It will replace the current 213,000-square-foot building, which was erected as a Schuster’s department store in 1910-1.

The old three-story building at 1220 W. Vliet St. – designed by Brust & Philipp – currently houses offices for agencies like the county's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the State of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Enrollment Services, as well as a food bank in the lower level.

“Today is a monumental day. I’m thrilled to be celebrating the groundbreaking of the new Marcia P. Coggs Health and Human Services Center, an upstream investment in race and health equity for our community," said County Executive David Crowley on Monday.

The new building is being constructed with $32 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that were approved for this use by the County Board’s Committee on Finance in 2022.

“For the first time, Milwaukee County will have a building designed specifically to deliver health and human services, eliminating physical barriers, creating a warm and welcoming location, and improving access for families and individuals to resources and services that address social determinants of health,” read a County press release today.

It had seemed as though the County was going to demolish the Schuster’s building and replace it with the new building or parking for the new building, but it was decided to see if a developer would be interested in converting it.

“Milwaukee County is currently analyzing the future of the Health and Human Services building at 1220 W. Vliet St.,” said Jonathan Fera, Communications Director for Crowley’s office.

“We released a Request for Ideas for the future of this building on Feb. 3, 2023. We continue to review ideas that prioritize racial equity and meet the needs of the community.”

The Coggs Center will be the first new County building being constructed in or near Downtown since the Criminal Justice Facility in 1992, according to Monday's statement.

The new center is located adjacent to the Mental Health Emergency Center. The plan also calls for the construction of 120 single-family homes in the center’s King Park neighborhood.

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