By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 22, 2020 at 9:38 AM

NEWaukee has signed a contract to buy the former Schlitz Tivoli Palm Garden, 504 W. National Ave., that was long home to the Milwaukee Ballet, before it decamped to its new Third Ward home last year.

The 1901 cream city brick building on the corner of 5th and National was listed for sale by the ballet in September.

Schlitz hired its preferred architect Charles Kirchhoff – who also drew tied houses and other properties for the brewery – to design a South Side palm garden that would build on the success of its Downtown palm garden, erected at 3rd and Wisconsin five years earlier.

You can find a detailed history of the building in this Urban Spelunking story from last January.

NEWaukee plans to redevelop the two-story, 16,000-square-foot property as The Beacon, which is says, "will be a hub for social innovation and entrepreneurship, combating social isolation through connectivity and creating dozens of jobs by 2021."

The development will be undertaken in partnership with JoAnne Sabir and Melissa Goins from Freedom Endeavors.

The plan calls for a mixed-use development with 8,500 square feet of open office and meeting spaces, 6,000 square feet of flexible event space, and a 1,500-square-foot cafe and bar that would be managed by an outside owner/operator.

The renovation will be designed by Kubala Washatko Architects and built by Greenfire Management Services.

NEWaukee says that it has – along with Sabir and Goins – raised nearly $615,000 of its projected $3.4 million budget.

"Over the past 10 years, we have studied how people move through spaces and have created unique, catalytic programming throughout the City of Milwaukee," said Angela Damiani, CEO and Co-Founder of NEWaukee, in a statement issued Wednesday.

"Now, we are excited to take all of this experience and apply it in the development of a permanent, physical home for NEWaukee and the community at large."

NEWaukee’s offices are currently located in The City Center 735, 735 N. Water St., Downtown.

"NEWaukee’s mission is to change the way people connect, creating a beacon of belonging in the communities we work with," explains Damiani. "This project will be the physical embodiment of that mission."

NEWaukee, and its related businesses, Newance and Rev Collective, will relocate to the building.

"The Beacon will provide a physical space for an inclusive and vibrant gathering of local artisans, makers, tech startups, small businesses, and the customers they serve," said Damiani.

"We believe the investment in the Walker’s Point area will have a ripple effect not only on that neighborhood, but also on the City as a whole, due to the extensive programmatic layers of the development."

NEWaukee will host a public announcement event on Monday, Jan. 27 from 5 until 6:30 p.m. at the University Club, 924 E. Wells St. Prospective investors and tenants are invited to attend.

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.