By Meredith Melland Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service Published Dec 05, 2023 at 5:01 PM

Thanks to a contribution from Milwaukee County, Near West Side Partners is one step closer to its $20 million funding goal for Concordia 27, as the organization prepares to open the first finished space in the complex in mid-December.

In the 2024 budget, Milwaukee County allocated $2 million in affordable housing funding to go to Concordia 27, an affordable housing redevelopment and community hub led by Near West Side Partners, or NWSP.

Located in the Concordia neighborhood, at 27th and Wells streets, a four-story complex is being redeveloped into the mixed-use Concordia 27, which will have community space, nonprofit/commercial spaces and 33 affordable housing units for people making less than $15 an hour.

Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson and County Executive David Crowley signed the adopted 2024 Milwaukee County budget, with the funding provision in it, on Nov. 15 during a ceremony at Concordia 27.

“As the supervisor representing this neighborhood, I led the county’s partnership with the Near West Side because of our shared commitment to equity and quality affordable housing,” Nicholson told NNS in an email.

Nearing opening

Concordia 27 is designed to address inequities of housing insecurity, health disparities, food insecurity, trauma, unemployment and transportation access.

The building’s first floor will house Near West Side Partners; a large commercial kitchen and training space by Centers for Independence, or CFI; Fruition MKE, which includes coworking and maker spaces and a cafe; and Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee, a wellness nonprofit addressing trauma and stress. 

Centers for Independence’s space is expected to open by mid-December, according to Lindsey St. Arnold Bell, executive director of Near West Side Partners.

CFI provides culinary workforce training to adults with disabilities and prepares over 18,000 daily meals to more than 11,000 low-income children in schools and after-school programs in Milwaukee County.

The remaining first-floor spaces are expected to be completed in January, and tenants are expected to move in next spring. 

Concordia 27X

Ensuring apartment affordability

The housing units are expected to be completed by fall 2024, pending full funding, St. Arnold Bell said.

NWSP previously secured $16 million in federal, state and private funding for the project, including $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding from the state of Wisconsin.

Rick Wiegand, who purchased the property in 2015, and his firm, Wiegand Enterprises LLC, is managing the development with NWSP and Quorum Architects.

Many of the stakeholders involved in Concordia 27 are already connected to the Near West Side and Concordia, including Tiffany Miller, a neighborhood resident who co-founded Fruition MKE.

“Our mission is to make the space (Fruition) accessible to the neighborhood because it’s needed,” Miller said during a building tour in September.

A focus on the community

Once Concordia 27’s partners open their spaces, they plan to work with each other to meet community needs.

To provide healthy food options, Fruition MKE’s cafe will sell reduced-priced meals made by CFI employees.

CFI’s commercial kitchen will be used during off hours as an incubator for food entrepreneurs who need a professional space.

“They’ll be able to leverage all of our equipment, all of our storage and our connections, so we’re pretty excited about that,” said Heidi Chada, vice president of employment and commercial services at CFI.

The entrepreneurs will also have the chance to sell their food in Fruition’s cafe. 

St. Arnold Bell is excited about the building’s potential.

“At the end of the day, this is a beautiful building,” she said. “But it’s really who we bring in and how we enhance the opportunities here with programming that’s really going to make it an asset to the community.”

For more information

St. Arnold Bell said Concordia 27 is working with partners, including the City of Milwaukee, to make up the $2 million gap to reach its $20 million goal. It is also accepting donations.